Investigation by Orange County Violent Gang Task Force Leads to Federal Narcotics and Firearms Charges Against 20 Defendants
SANTA ANA, California – Authorities with the Orange County Violent Gang Task Force this morning arrested nine defendants on federal narcotics and firearms charges stemming from an investigation into gang activity in Santa Ana and surrounding communities.
The arrests are the result of 10 federal indictments issued by a federal grand jury that charge a total of 20 defendants. The indictments allege a series of methamphetamine and heroin transactions, as well as firearms offenses. Seven of the defendants are believed to members of Alley Boys street gang, and four others are believed to be members of other Orange County gangs.
One of the indictments details an illicit narcotics-trafficking operation based in a budget hotel in Santa Ana where the drugs were sold and distributed. A second indictment alleges a transaction at an Anaheim hotel where two defendants allegedly sold a half-pound of methamphetamine to a prospective buyer for $3,500 in cash.
In addition to those arrested this morning, nine defendants are currently in custody on other charges, including two who were taken into custody yesterday on state charges. Two defendants are currently being sought by federal authorities.
“As part of our violent crime initiative, we are taking the fight to local street gangs such as the Alley Boys who destroy our communities with drugs and guns,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “The federal criminal cases being announced today are the latest in a long string of investigations in which federal and state agencies have partnered to target the gang activity that takes a devastating toll on neighborhoods. Jurisdictional boundaries don’t matter to street gangs and drug traffickers, which is why my prosecutors and federal agents will continue to work with local authorities to improve public safety.”
“Street gangs and their members with extensive criminal histories continue to remain a menace to neighborhoods here in Orange County and throughout California,” said Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “We will continue to work with our local and federal partners on the Orange County Violent Crimes Task Force to target the most notorious gangs who continue to wreak havoc on our communities.”
“Today’s announcement of ‘Operation King Midas’ is an example of our collective success in protecting our communities,” said Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin. “The outcomes displayed here today are a direct reflection of the successful collaboration between the Santa Ana Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and all our task force partners working toward a common goal – safety of all the good people of our communities. The residents of Santa Ana and Orange County have confidence in law enforcement and the results of this case provide evidence of why their trust and confidence exists. As the host agency of the FBI-sponsored Orange County Violent Gang Task Force, we are proud of this impactful collaboration.”
The 20 defendants named in the indictments unsealed this morning are:
- Sergio Soria, aka “Red,” 41, of Tustin, an alleged leader of the Highland gang, who is currently a fugitive;
- David Oscar Perez, aka “Jap,” 42, of Santa Ana;
- Hector Aburto Lopez, 27, of Santa Ana;
- Sammy Walter Gray, Junior, aka “Junior,” 35, of Santa Ana;
- Sylvia Gray, aka “Shiva,” 43, of Santa Ana;
- Deanna Lorraine Kirk, aka “Dee,” 48, of Bakersfield, who was already in custody;
- George Ramirez, aka “Lil’ One,” 39, of Santa Ana;
- Danny Castillo, aka “Taz,” 39, of Santa Ana;
- Melissa Ramirez, 35, of Santa Ana;
- Esteban Cervantes, aka “Hitman,” 43, of Santa Ana, who was already in custody and now faces federal firearms offenses that include selling a .45-caliber handgun to a person he thought was a convicted felon;
- Oscar Peralta Jimenez, aka “Toker,” 35, of Santa Ana, who was already in custody;
- Daniel Zaragoza, aka “Dough Boy,” 39, of Santa Ana, who was already in custody;
- Jennie Martinez, 27, of Santa Ana;
- Michael Herrera, aka “Oso,” 41, of Santa Ana, an Alley Boys “shotcaller” who is believed to be in Mexico at this time;
- Jaime Rojas, aka “Sneaky,” 41, of Garden Grove, who was already in custody;
- Cesar Reyes, aka “Spy,” 43, of Santa Ana, who was already in custody;
- Rene Cruz, aka “Grumpy,” 42, of Santa Ana, who was already in custody;
- Berenice Macias, aka “Bere,” 27, of Anaheim;
- Gregory Michael O’Brien, 50, of Santa Ana; and
- Frank Perez, 47, of Santa Ana, California.
(One additional defendant named in one of the indictments recently died and will be dismissed as a defendant in that case.)
The 11 defendants taken into custody this morning are expected to be arraigned on the indictments this afternoon in United States District Court in Santa Ana.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
These cases were investigated by the Orange County Violent Gang Task Force, which is made up of agents and officers with the Anaheim Police Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the California Department of Corrections – Parole; the Correctional Intelligence Task Force; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Fullerton Police Department; IRS Criminal Investigation; the Orange County Probation Department; and the Santa Ana Police Department.
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Greg Scally, Ann Luotto Wolf and Jake Nare of the Santa Ana Branch Office.
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