MERCED COUNTY, Calif. - Merced county is safer tonight. Multiple California agencies worked with Merced County Sheriff's Department, including the FBI, in a massive gang sweep. The sweep targeted Sureno Gang members.
Early Wednesday morning nearly 500 federal, state and local law enforcement hit the streets of Merced county, confiscating 70 firearms, six and a half pounds of crystal meth and more than $170,000 in cash.
"This is the largest hall of firearms I think thats ever taken place in the county of Merced," Larry D. Morse II, Merced County District Attorney, said. "When you hear 21,000 rounds of ammunition has been ceased and realize that each and everyone of those rounds could result in the loss of life, you understand the significance of this operation."
Merced County Officials said the sweep came about after they noticed Sureno Gang members filling the void of the Norteno territory, particularly in the Atwater and winton areas. After law enforcement successfully took them out in a similar sweep around two years ago.
"These aren't just local little school by thugs, they're getting more and more organized and the Mexican Mafia has reached out to them because that's how they make their money," Sheriff Vern Warnke of Merced County, said.
Sheriff Warnke said all 49 arrested ranged in ages from juveniles to 40 years old. Sheriff Warnke said some arrested are illegals. He said that most of the guns confiscated had been altered, likely to carry out crimes.
"To have these types of guns to be untraceable that's truly for the criminal element," Warnke said.
Warnke said a big success of this operation is everyone worked together. He said no one was hurt, no shots were fired, no canines were used. But of course Warnke said this is just the beginning and they'll continue to crack down on all criminals threatening the community.