More than 50 arrested in drug-trafficking sweep in Tulare, Kings counties


Nearly 100 have been arrested in the monthslong investigation

KINGS COUNTY, California – More than 50 people were arrested in the Central Valley on Tuesday on federal and state charges in connection to drug-trafficking activities after an investigation into the criminal activities of individuals associated with the Nuestra Familia prison gang.

There were 54 arrests in all on Tuesday.

The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI’s Sacramento Field Office, Kings County District Attorney Keith Fagundes, Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward, Kings County Sheriff David Robinson, and Hanford Police Chief Parker Sever.

The suspects charged federally are:

1)       SALVADOR CASTRO, JR., 49, of Pleasant Valley State Prison

2)       RAYMOND LOPEZ, 31, of Pleasant Valley State Prison

3)       JESSE JUAREZ, 28, of Visalia

4)       DANIEL JUAREZ, 27, of Visalia

5)       MICHAEL ROCHA, 36, of Visalia

6)       ANGEL MONTES, 23, of Visalia

7)       RAFAEL LOPEZ, 28, of Visalia

8)       MANUEL BARRERA, 24, of Kettleman City

9)       MANUEL GARCIA, 33, of Armona

10)     JOANN BERNAL, 32, of Armona

11)     RAMON AMADOR, 29, of Riverdale

12)     RAUL LOPEZ, JR., 48, of Visalia

13)     DONAVEN ADKINS, 41, of Hanford

14)     RYAN GINES, 39, of Armona

15)     DOUG GINES, 48, of Hanford

16)     FLORENTINO GUTIERREZ, 37, of Hanford

17)     JESUS NUNEZ, 19, of McFarland

18)     MARIA NUNEZ, 22, of McFarland

19)     LOUIS MOLINA, 48, of Hanford

20)     ERNESTO ZIBRAY, 30, of Delano

21)     TIFFANY FELLER, 31, of Riverdale.

A list of suspects charged with state crimes was not immediately released.

According to court documents, in March 2019, various agencies partnered in an investigation into the Nuestra Familia prison gang and the Norteño street gang in Kings County, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The investigation uncovered that Nuestra Familia was responsible for large-scale trafficking of methamphetamine and other controlled substances, as well as various firearms offenses and other violent crimes, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

According to court documents, high-ranking Nuestra Familia members Salvador Castro, Jr. and Raymond Lopez used contraband cell phones from inside Fresno County’s Pleasant Valley State Prison to arrange the transport of illicit narcotics from drug sources in California and Mexico to a stash house in Kings County, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

From that stash house, gang members outside of the prison coordinated the preparation and delivery of the drugs to distributors throughout Kings and Tulare Counties. The complaint charges several other gang associates, including Angel Montes, Rafael Lopez, Daniel Juarez, Manuel Barrerra, Manuel Garcia, Joann Bernal, Ramon Amador, and Raul Lopez, Jr. with federal drug-distribution crimes, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

U.S. Attorney Scott stated: “This coordinated law enforcement operation highlights how federal, state, and local law enforcement partners can work together to target gang activities that make our communities unsafe. When we work together in this way, we are more effective in achieving our shared goal of ensuring public safety. We are committed to combatting and reducing violent crime and drug trafficking, both inside and outside of prison walls.”

“The fear and violence that criminal street gangs are perpetrating in our communities cannot be tolerated,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We will continue to collaborate with our federal and local partners to reduce crime and keep our communities safe.”

This case was the product of an investigation by the Kings County Gang Task Force; Agents of the Special Operations Unit – a team of agents from the California Department of Justice and the California Highway Patrol; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; the FBI, and Kings County District Attorney’s Office.

Drug Enforcement Administration, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Marshals Service, and Homeland Security Investigations all assisted with the takedown. Assistant United States Attorneys Kimberly Sanchez, Laurel Montoya, and Justin Gilio are prosecuting the case.

The 10-monthlong investigation has resulted in 96 arrests.

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