INDIO, Calif. - Law enforcement authorities arrested 14 of 22 individuals Tuesday linked to a Riverside County-based street gang who are charged in a federal criminal complaint with trafficking methamphetamine and other offenses, including firearms violations.
Three of the defendants in the case were already in custody on unrelated charges and five of the suspects remain at large.
The charges are the result of a multi-agency investigation that began in mid-2009 into the activities of the Southside Indio (SSI) street gang. The investigation involved the Gang Impact Team, which is made up of personnel from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Homeland Security Investigations; the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Riverside County District Attorney's Office; and the Indio Police Department. In addition, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service provided significant assistance with Tuesday's operation.
The enforcement action, known as "Eastern Encore," capped a comprehensive enforcement strategy to target and dismantle the Southside Indio organization, considered the largest and most prolific gang in the Indio area. In addition to the federal allegations, state prosecutors charged and arrested several of the gang's members on state violations. Beyond that, state authorities also executed search warrants and carried out related civil actions against the gang. In addition, 11 federal search warrants were executed during Tuesday's operation. Those searches resulted in the seizure of approximately $159,000 in cash as well as a variety of firearms.
The criminal complaint charges 22 gang members and gang associates with federal narcotics and firearms violations. According to the complaint, the defendants played multiple roles in a coordinated methamphetamine trafficking enterprise, including sales, distribution and transportation.
Those charged federally are:
- Miguel Sauceda, of Coachella, in federal custody;
- Jose Fuentes-Sauceda, of Coachella, arrested;
- Osiel Pantaleon, of Indio, arrested;
- Michael Ramirez, of Coachella, arrested;
- Silviano Franco, already in state custody;
- Samuel Parra Barnachia, of Coachella, currently being sought;
- Carlos Grando Barnachia, of Coachella, currently being sought;
- Eduardo Flores Corral, of Indio, arrested;
- Delila Minique Flores, of Indio, arrested;
- Arturo Vega, already in state custody;
- Robert Perez, of Indio, currently being sought;
- Raymond Villagomez, of Indio, arrested;
- Robert Luis Gaeta, of Indio, arrested;
- Rogelio Sanchez Carranza, of Coachella, arrested;
- Francisco Romero, arrested;
- David Gaeta, of Indio, arrested;
- Rolando Garza, of Indio, arrested;
- Telly Chakalis, of La Quinta, currently being sought;
- Juanita Katrina Perez, of Coachella, arrested;
- Christina Rocha, of Indio, arrested;
- Robert Luna, of Bermuda Dunes, currently being sought.
The defendants taken into custody during the operation are expected to make their initial court appearances Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Riverside, Calif. For those defendants who are currently in state custody, the U.S. Attorney's Office expects to file writs to have them brought into federal custody. Authorities continue to search for the remaining defendants named in the federal cases.
If convicted, each of the federal criminal defendants face a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison. Some of the defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.