Nearly half of those arrested in gang raids earlier this week in Merced County have been charged of crimes in local or federal court, records show.
Operation Scrapbook targeted Sureño gang members operating under the umbrella of the Mexican Mafia. Undercover work began months ago when confidential sources bought guns and drugs from local Sureño gang members’ whose communications on social media apps such as Snapchat and Facebook were being intercepted, according to court records.
The raids netted more than 50 arrests, at least 70 guns, $225,000 cash, 21,000 rounds of ammunition and 6.5 pounds of methamphetamine, authorities reported.
Of those charged, about a half dozen are believed to have been involved in four different shooting incidents, Deputy District Attorney Michael McKinney said.
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Investigators also gathered additional information on six open homicide cases, District Attorney Larry Morse II said.
Warrants were served in multiple communities both in Merced and Stanislaus counties, including: Atwater, Winton, Merced, Hilmar, Stevinson, Delhi, Hughson, Modesto, Turlock and Oakdale, said Sgt. Rodney Court, who is with the Merced Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team.
“Many of these guys, their livelihoods depends on being gangsters — selling guns and selling drugs,” Court said. “We put these people behind bars because they’re creating havoc in Merced County.”
Robert “Bubba” Guthrie, 22, has been described as one of the most influential leaders of the A-Town Locs Sureño street gang. He’s charged in federal court with drug and gun trafficking, selling drugs and possessing guns illegally.
Eleven others are named in the federal complaint: Andres Prado Corona, 28, of Hughson; Joseph Quirarte, 21, of Atwater; Francisco Salgado; Marcos Hernandez, 33, of Winton; Raul Hurtado; Orasio Fierro, 25, of Winton; Jose Rodriguez, 34, of Atwater; Zeb Stevens, 37, of Atwater; Vincent Williams, 28, of Winton; and Abraham Sagala.
Daniel Garcia of Oakdale, 21, also was included in the case, said Deb Duckett-Morris, secretary to U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert. Garcia’s name was reported to the Sun-Star on Friday.
Fierro, Hurtado and Rodriguez entered not guilty pleas in federal court on Thursday, records show. Preliminary examinations for them were scheduled for May 25.
Guthrie also was charged in Merced County Superior Court on Friday for a March drive-by shooting in Winton. His co-defendents are Roberto Blancas-Morales, 19; Cesar Corona, 18; Joaquin Flores, 25; and Raul Rivera Perez, 18, court records show.
Flores also is charged with conspiracy to commit a crime. In March, Flores packaged marijuana and handed it off to someone who took the marijuana to Deuel Vocational Institution, a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation facility in Tracy, according to documents.
Joshua Lacey, a 35-year-old Atwater man, was charged in federal court on Friday for possession of an unregistered gun. In the federal complaint, investigators say they watched Lacey supply guns to Guthrie and Fierro, who then sold the guns to investigators’ confidential sources.
In an interview with investigators on Wednesday after his arrest, Lacey demonstrated he knew how to operate AR-style rifles. He admitted to selling an AR-15 to Fierro because he needed the extra money in a financially difficult time. He denied selling additional guns to Fierro and Guthrie, according to court records.
Jose Anthony Perez, 21, was charged with shooting at a car, assault with a gun, conspiracy, gang enhancements and street terrorism enhancements stemming from a 2014 shooting, records show.
Additional charges will be filed next week, McKinney said.
Many will be arraigned in federal court and Merced County Superior Court next week.
Multiple people arrested Wednesday have been bailed out of jail.
Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477