OAKLAND (CBS SF) – State and local authorities say more than a dozen suspects affiliated with a notorious street gang have been arrested during a series of early morning raids in Oakland.
Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said the sweeps began about 5 a.m. Friday at more than a dozen locations across town involving alleged members of the Case Gang.
He said the large operation focused on the Case Gang, which he said is the most violent gang he’s seen in his 25 years in the department, as well as the rival Money Team Gang.
Jordan said officers from 15 agencies served search warrants and arrest warrants at multiple locations throughout the Bay Area at about 5 a.m. and the raids went well, as no one was hurt.
Deputy Police Chief Eric Breshears said the suspects were arrested for a variety of crimes, including attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, illegal gun possession, pimping and prostitution.
Breshears said Oakland police, with help from other agencies, have been investigating the two gangs closely since last fall and their efforts resulted in 33 felony arrests and the seizure of 26 firearms before Friday’s operation.
Jordan said the crime sweep is part of Operation Ceasefire, a multi-disciplinary approach to fighting violence launched last October that he described as “my central strategy for fighting crime.”
The program involves having police, probation and parole officers work with community members such as pastors and crime victims to try to persuade members of gangs and other violent groups to try to lead more productive lives.
Jordan said police and community members met with representatives of 14 different gangs in East Oakland last October and that area went about 10 days without any shootings but then the Case Gang and the Money Team Gang “started shooting at each other,” attracting close scrutiny by police.
He said the Case Gang has attracted the most police attention in recent months because it’s been more active than the Money Team Gang.
Jordan said he thinks the two gangs are more dangerous than other gangs because “they don’t have traditional motives such as engaging in turf wars but instead they just hate the other gang.”
Lt. Tony Jones said the two gangs “have no regard for public safety” and don’t care if innocent bystanders are caught in the middle when they shoot at each other.
Jones said the Case Gang is an offshoot of the Nut Cases Gang that engaged in a violent crime rampage in 2002 and 2003 but ultimately was largely broken up by police and by the convictions of many of its leaders.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris said she assigned special agents to Oakland late last year to help investigate the two gangs as well, stop what she described as “the infestation of home-invasion robberies in the Oakland hills” and crack down on ex-felons who are banned from carrying guns.
Harris said efforts by her office resulted in 23 arrests and the seizure of 55 firearms as well as a significant decrease in home-invasion robberies.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said her city has received significant help from federal law enforcement agencies because federal officials realize that Oakland is “one of a handful of cities across the country who are being hard hit by violence.”
Quan said Friday’s raid “clearly sends a message” to criminals and she hopes it will have “a lasting impact on peace” in Oakland’s neighborhoods.
Among the agencies who worked with the Oakland Police Department on the operation carried out Friday were the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the California Highway Patrol, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and the state Department of Justice.