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Police, Prosecutors Credit Enforcement Effort With Lowering Gang Violence In Central County

Photo: Archive

From the Office of the District Attorney:

Martinez, Calif. – Operation Omega Red, put together by Concord Police Department, the FBI Safe Streets Task Force and all of our partner agencies, resulted in the arrest and successful prosecution of 15 gang members and their associates.

Since the arrests took place in August of 2016, the cases against the Norteno gang members and their associates have resulted in 15 individuals being convicted of felony offenses, most of those being serious or violent strike felonies. The most dangerous individuals, such as Thomas “Lil T” Leon and Armando “Mando” Amaro, received 35-year sentences in prison each. Other violent offenders such as Jesse “Manos” Loyola were sentenced to 25 years in prison. In all, over 165 years of custody time resulted from the Omega Red prosecutions.

“We focused our efforts on the violence drivers – the individuals who were committing the most serious acts of violence and putting the community in the greatest danger,” said Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton. These violence drivers include Thomas “Lil T” Leon, Armando “Mando” Amaro and Jesse “Manos” Loyola.

Today, the last two defendants in the Omega Red case, Jesse “Manos” Loyola and Armando “Mando” Amaro pleaded no contest to attempted murder with firearm use and committing the crimes for the benefit of the Norteno gang.

Between July of 2015 and June of 2016, there were 11 shootings between Nortenos and Surenos in the Central and Eastern parts of Contra Costa County. Seven of these shootings resulted in homicides. Four of those murders occurred on Highway 4, two occurred in Concord and one took place in Bay Point. Concord Police and other law enforcement agencies believed these shootings were related to an ongoing gang war between Nortenos and Surenos in the Central and Eastern parts of Contra Costa County.

In mid-May of 2016, the Concord Police Department, in conjunction with the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office and their Law Enforcement partners began a strategic investigation targeting the most violent Norteno gang members suspected of participating in the shootings. The investigation lasted just under three months. It resulted in the arrest of over twenty individuals; eighteen of these individuals were later prosecuted for crimes ranging from conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, drug sales, witness retaliation and firearms crimes.

From the date of the initial arrests in this case in August of 2016, there has been one murder on Highway 4, which was not gang related, and there has only been one gang related murder in the City of Concord. “This drastic reduction from seven gang driven homicides in under one year to only one in the last three years is a testament to the effectiveness of this kind of targeted law enforcement action and the power of police partnerships across the county,” asserted Concord Police Chief Guy Swanger.


    • What leads you to that conclusion/theory, George? We are aware of some grow operations reportedly linked to gangs/cartels. Anything else?

  1. No leads or information here … sorry, It just seems that way with the recent spike in violent crimes Lafayette and Orinda have had.

  2. I agree with George. It’s not uncommon for violent home invasions to be gang related. Gang members are known to police in their town, so it’s probably easier (and more profitable) to work neighborhoods outside their neighborhood. Burglaries are just as profitable as home invasions, but home invasions include violence, and gang members are all about violence.

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