MODESTO — The day after dozens of Stanislaus County gang members were picked up on warrants, jailed for violating their parole or probation, and stripped of illegal weapons and drugs, more than a quarter were back on the streets. While they are out of jail, they aren't off the hook.
Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll acknowledged Thursday that the charges those arrested face won't amount to lengthy sentences. Still, he said Wednesday's countywide sweep sent the message that gang members are being watched and will be held accountable for bad behavior.
"We take gang crimes seriously," Carroll said. "They may not get a whole bunch of time this time, but we are paying attention to them."
More than 100 officers from agencies around the county participated in the parole and probation searches on the homes of 90 known gang members and their associates. The sweep included locations in Modesto, Ceres, Riverbank, Patterson and unincorporated parts of Stanislaus County.
All participating agencies contributed names of people they felt needed attention based on several factors such as how active their gang is and how active the gang member is within that gang, according to Modesto police Sgt. Rick Applegate. Law enforcement also took into consideration the gang member's criminal history and gang intelligence.
Overcrowding a factor
No specific gang was targeted. But because the majority of the gang violence in the county is between Norteños and Sureños, most of the people searched were members of one of those gangs.
"We are equal opportunity when it comes to gangs," Carroll said.
Twenty-six people were arrested on charges ranging from weapons and drug possession to property crimes and driving on a suspended license.
By Thursday afternoon, four had bailed out on bonds from $10,000 to $15,000. Another three didn't even spend the night because their charges were misdemeanors and were cited and released, according to sheriff's Deputy Royjindar Singh. Six more were cited and released at their homes.
Due to jail overcrowding compounded by state prison realignment, it has been years since people have been booked on misdemeanors other than domestic violence or any crime that violates a restraining order, Singh said.
One of the tools probation officers have for people on Post Release Community Supervision felons released from prison to the supervision of county probation instead of state parole is flash incarceration. Flash incarceration can keep a person jailed for up to 10 days without a court hearing. But whether they stay for 10 days also depends on whether the jail has bed space. Three people who were flash incarcerated Wednesday one for having a knife and two for drug charges remained in custody Thursday.
Warrants were issued against three people who were not present when their homes were searched because illegal material was found.
Drugs, weapons seized
In addition to sending the message of a no tolerance approach to gangs members, officers took dangerous weapons and drugs off the streets.
Seized was more than 2 ounces of methamphetamine, 30 marijuana plants, more than 3 pounds of marijuana, a bottle of hash oil and a bottle of methadone. Also confiscated were nine firearms, including two assault rifles. The man suspected of possessing one of those assault rifles is one of the four who is already out on bail.
The weapons charges will bring the stiffest potential sentences. The maximum sentence for the most serious offense of being a felon is possession of a firearm is three years in state prison.
Modesto Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2366. Follow her on Twitter, @ModestoBeeCrime.