From the daily archives: Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the arrests of 101 leaders and members of two transnational gangs operating violent criminal enterprises in the Central Valley cities of Madera, Los Banos, Livingston, Merced, Atwater and Dos Palos.

“As transnational gangs traffic crime into California, we must counter their ruthlessness with our resolve,” said Attorney General Harris. “The arrest of dozens of transnational gang leaders and members frees California from a significant criminal threat.”

The operation, code-named “Red Zone,” was led by Attorney General Harris’ Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement office in Fresno. It is the latest in a series of actions the Attorney General has taken against transnational gangs.

Attorney General Harris was joined today in the announcement of Operation Red Zone by U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner, Madera County Sheriff John Anderson, and Merced District Attorney Larry Morse II.

Law enforcement from 16 local, state, and federal agencies arrested 75 individuals yesterday, adding to 26 previous arrests, and seized methamphetamine, marijuana plants and crack cocaine during sweeps in Madera and Merced counties. Police also seized more than a dozen firearms, including five assault rifles, and more than $64,000 in currency.

Operation Red Zone was launched in August 2010, when agents with the Department of Justice discovered that members of the Nuestra Familia gang – effectively driven out of Salinas in earlier sweeps – had set up drug trafficking operations in the cities of Madera, Los Banos, Livingston, Merced, Atwater and Dos Palos.

Agents from the Department of Justice logged more than 8,100 hours on the investigation. Out of this focused attention, and the full-time commitment of 21 individuals from the Fresno Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, agents narrowed in on dozens of gang members – tracking their day-to-day activities and gathering evidence of felonies ranging from drug trafficking to attempted murder.

Seventy-two arrest warrants were served yesterday at more than 50 locations in Merced and Madera counties, in an operation conducted by 31 multi-agency teams. Those arrested were booked into the Madera and Merced County jail. Eight of the individuals arrested will be federally indicted, while the remainder will be prosecuted in Merced County.

The arrests were conducted with assistance from Merced Gang Task Force, Madera Gang Task Force, Merced Narcotics Task Force, Merced County Sheriff’s Department, Merced Police Department, Atwater Police Department, Los Banos Police Department, Livingston Police Department, Madera Police Department, Madera County Corrections, and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Operation Red Zone grew out of intelligence obtained in earlier operations. In April 2010, agents from the Attorney General’s Gang Suppression Enforcement and other law enforcement agencies arrested 37 members of the Nortenos and Surenos gangs in Salinas. These arrests targeted the most dangerous gang leaders and, along with an additional 57 arrests, had a significant impact on gang operations in Salinas.

Likewise, the arrests in Madera and Merced counties yesterday focused on gang leadership – and signal the Attorney General’s commitment to disrupting the influence of transnational gangs in communities across the state.

In February, agents arrested three associates of a Tijuana drug cartel in a murder-for-hire plot in Southern California. In March, Attorney General Harris brought law enforcement leaders from across the state to California’s border with Mexico to see firsthand the problem of transnational gangs smuggling guns, drugs and human beings across the border. In April, the Attorney General announced the creation of the first multi-agency gang task force in Tulare County.

Last month, the collaboration of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies led to two significant gang takedowns. In Contra Costa, a gang sweep netted 35 arrests and the seizure of more than 135 pounds of methamphetamine ( In another bust in Chico and surrounding areas, local, state and federal agents arrested 23 individuals and seized a significant stash of methamphetamine, marijuana and cocaine (

Four of every 10 homicides that occur in California are gang-related, and more than 80 percent of the California cases in which relocation is required for the protection of witnesses involve gang violence.

Launched in Folsom Prison in 1968, Nuestra Familia is one of seven prison gangs in the state. Through top-down leadership, Nuestra Familia controls illegal activities inside several prisons, as well as most of the Nortenos gangs who operate in central California – from Yuba City to Bakersfield and from Salinas to the Sierra foothills.


Summer Is Here!

HERE IT IS SUMMER, I can tell because the basketball playoffs are just about over and the high schools are graduating their seniors.
Basketball used to be a winter sport, but with the prolonged schedule and the number of teams that play in the NBA, it’s almost become a year-around venture.
It still comes down to who wants to spend the most money for key players. That team generally gets to the finals.
That’s why I’m rooting for the Dallas Mavericks. The Miami Heat look like processed cheese with their slick lineup of super stars. Watching them lose is actually a day brightener .
The NBA could us some revisions. Like how about two leagues. With all the teams they have, it would be fairer to those perennial bottom dwellers if they had a shot a top spot in a new league.
Take the New York Knicks, the New Orleans Hornets, the Milwaukee Bucks and all those other teams that no one even knows are in the league and put them in their own league.
It would generate more fan interest and spread out some of the wealth over more teams.
Now all I have to do is convince the NBA that this is a feasible idea. Hmmm…
GRADUATION TIME FINDS OUR PAGES filled with lots of accomplishments from the 2,000 or so graduates of the local school systems.
This summer may find a lot of them standing around, though. Since a good many summer programs have been trimmed back to accommodate the budget slashes made by the State Legislature.
Nevertheless,  there is always hope for the future and plenty of enthusiasm for what the new class will bring to society.
Considering how fast technology is changing, we wonder what the next 20 years will bring in the form of innovations and how much these grads can contribute to it. It will be an interesting time, indeed.
We offer the best of luck for the future of all these people and hope there will be less wars and peacetime achievements to be gained.
If you want to take a look at the graduation exercises around the Valley, pick up a copy of next week’s paper, which will be chick full of photos and results.
ONE NICE THING ABOUT IMPERIAL VALLEY THIS YEAR has been the lack of super hot days. We know they are coming, but at least they’ve been kept to a minimum this spring, so far.
One thing that might be missing are a lot of recreational activities. People in Holtville may find they have little to occupy their children with because the city programs have been trimmed.
Nobody’s sure that  event he swimming pool will be open this summer. It’s currently ton up and waiting for refurbishing. A task we hope won’t take too long as the hot days begin to accumulate.
A lot of the recreation programs were supported by funds form the Redevelopment Agency and our reporter Luke Phillips tells us those have been trimmed in a cost cutting move. In addition, the city’s utility tax supports much of the recreation budget and the enemies of that service charge are out to do it in too.
When are people going to return to their senses and realize that people need some basic services and should expect to get them from the government. anybody who thinks otherwise hasn’t been in touch with what goes on in the real world.
We have been very disappointed in the actions of the Holtville City Council, particularly one of its appointed members who thinks he has a right to destroy the quality of life for the entire city.
We hope he, and several other people who should have retired a long time ago call it quits soon. then, perhaps, Holtville can move ahead for a change instead of continually looking backward.
ONE GOOD THING ABOUT THE CITY is that  it does have a great Ice Cream Social every spring. This year’s event was even more fun than the year before.  At least when some people get together, they don’t do it to complain. They do it to bring folks together.
there will be lots of year end parties in the other cities too as the fiscal years draw to a close for many of the clubs and organizations. The Chambers of Commerce will holding the their annual banquets. You should get out and support this organization in your hometown. It’s a solid investment in the future.
And right now Imperial Valley needs a lot of help with its future.


By Chris Furguson

Part of Calexico High School Graduation held on June 7, 2011

From May 27, 2011 until June 15, 2011, high school Graduation ceremonies will be taking place throughout the Valley, with nearly 2,000 students receiving their diplomas and moving on to their futures.
The first ceremony was held for Vincent Memorial, where 77 students crossed the threshold in front of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on May 27, 2011. Valedictorian Francisco Cortes join Salutatorians Hector Moreno and Sal Mario Padilla in the ceremony.
The next Commencement ceremony took place on Thursday, June 2, when both Central and Southwest held their respective graduations.
Central’s graduating class consisted of 330 departing Spartans, with Valedictorian Amanda Brodell and Salutatorian Nadia Mercado giving their addresses.
Southwest High saw 435 Eagles grab their diplomas as Valedictorian Mary Sanchez and Salutatorian Angela Conway spoke to their fellow students.
Calexico’s ceremony took place on Tuesday, June 7 and the school expected 558 Bulldogs to graduate.  Valedictorian Amanda Michelle Hurych and Salutatorian Maryann Laurias were expected to give their speeches.
Tonight will see Brawley’s 300+ graduates get their diplomas.  Co-Valedictorians Sarah Proo and Melina Torres join Salutatorian Kimberly Servera in congratulating their fellow classmates.
Both Imperial and Holtville will have their ceremonies on Friday, June 10.
Imperial’s Co-Valedictorians, Karen Rozas and Adam Herrera, will join Salutatorian Jasmin Atiles in honoring the 167 Tigers that will move on to future endeavors.
Holtville will also have their ceremony on Friday, June 10, at the Ed Birger Field.
The final Graduation will take place on Wednesday, June 15th, when the Calipatria Hornets will have 70 students cross the threshold into the future.
Comprehensive coverage of the Valley’s graduations will be seen in next week’s Weekly-Chronicle.


For students entering 7th-12th grade in the fall
Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
3:00pm – 6:00pm
Brawley Lion’s Center
225 “A” Street, Brawley, CA
Cost: $10/Tdap vaccine (cash or check only)
Students entering 7th through 12th grade in the 2011-2012 school year need a Tdap (whooping cough) vaccine if they have not yet received it. Individuals with private insurance are encouraged to contact their medical provider for an appointment to receive the vaccine. Those who don’t have a medical provider can receive the Tdap vaccine at the Imperial County Public Health Department.
Don’t forget your yellow immunization card!
For more information contact:

Denise Andrade 760.482.4906

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