19 arrested in Modesto, Ceres gang sweep

A countywide task force served 10 search warrants Wednesday in Modesto and Ceres and arrested 19 people as part of an ongoing operation to disrupt criminal activity by the Norteño street gang in Stanislaus County.

The charges for those arrested included possession of methamphetamine for the purpose of sales and distribution, participation in criminal street-gang activity, illegal weapons possession and violating parole, according to the district attorney's office.

The names, ages and cities of residence for those arrested were not available Wednesday evening.

The Central Valley Gang Impact Task Force led Wednesday's operation. The federally funded group has members from local law enforcement agencies and the FBI.

The search warrants were obtained after a seven-month investigation into the gang's criminal activity, which includes drug sales, robbery, home invasion and murder.

Wednesday's operation focused on disrupting a group of the Norteños under direct control of members of the Nuestra Familia prison gang, according to the district attorney's office.

Assisting the task force in serving the search warrants were about 150 law enforcement officials from agencies including the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, Modesto and Ceres police and FBI SWAT teams.

The searches started about 9:30 a.m. and ended early Wednesday afternoon. The task force seized two police scanners, ammunition and eight firearms, including a MAC-10 submachine gun and a sawed-off shotgun.

Authorities seized a small amount of meth, scales and packaging material. They discovered two small marijuana growing operations. The amount of drugs seized was not available.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at or 578-2394.