More than a month after six people were killed — including a 16-year-old mother and her 10-month-old baby — in Tulare County, the investigation continues to lead to a gang crackdown in the area.
A four-day long sweep by multiple law-enforcement agencies led to the arrest of 26 people on various charges throughout the county, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office announced late Friday.
A total of 97 homes and 23 prison cells were searched as part of what has been dubbed “Operation Nightmare.”
The Sheriff’s Office coined the term in early February, when it arrested 35-year-old Angel Uriarte of Goshen and 25-year-old Noah Beard of Visalia in a series of raids and charged them each with six counts of murder.
Authorities believe the men, along with two people killed in the murders, have Norteño and Sureño gang ties, respectively, and that the shooting may have been part of a rivalry.
At least 17 agencies participated in the most recent sweep, including the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and local police departments.
“The focus of the operation was to conduct probation and parole compliance checks, as well as, arrest warrant services on known gang members throughout Tulare County,” according to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office.
At least 18 arrest warrants were served.
On Friday, nine search warrants were served in the Visalia and Goshen area on known Norteño gang members, authorities said.
Deputies said they discovered an illegal firearm operation, 2 pounds of methamphetamine, an ounce of cocaine and several firearms.
Gang members were making untraceable guns and selling them to other gang members, deputies said. Officers found parts used to assemble untraceable AR-15-style firearms and handguns, including parts used to make handguns fully automatic.
At the same time the search warrants were being served, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation was searching cells of known Norteño or Nuestra Familia gang members at multiple prisons in the state.
Cellphones, weapons and “gang intelligence” were seized from validated gang members, deputies said.
On the last day of the operation, eight men and women were arrested on charges ranging from manufacturing an illegal weapon to child endangerment and drug charges.
Anyone with information regarding the investigation is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 559-733-6218. If they wish to remain anonymous, they can call or text 559-725-4194 or email at [email protected].
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