The Santa Barbara Police Department last week broke out its Bearcat — an armored vehicle modeled after an Ford F-550 Super Heavy Truck and immune to most nonmilitary munitions and explosives – to raid a home associated with 52-year-old Albert Perez, aka Dragon Man.
The search warrant served October 6 in the 1400 block of Lou Dillon Lane was part of a statewide crackdown on the Vagos Motorcycle Club, an outlaw gang whose members over the years have been convicted of murder, assault, conspiracy, rape, drug trafficking, and other crimes. Perez, a Vagos Sergeant at Arms, was not arrested as the warrant applied only to the residence. A search yielded items tying him to the gang, but no illegal drugs or weapons were found.
The SBPD declined to comment on the raid, directing all questions to the California Department of Justice (DOJ), which coordinated the widespread effort. The operation was 18 months in the making and code-named Simple Green after the color popular with Vagos members.
Michelle Gregory with the DOJ said 12 Vagos members were arrested in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles counties, and that more than 300 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition were seized. Search warrants were also served in Orange, San Diego, and Imperial counties, she went on, the DOJ coordinating with 42 allied local and federal agencies to execute 52 warrants. An earlier raid turned up a grenade launcher, rocket launcher, and body armor.
“This outlaw biker gang has been terrorizing our community for years,” said San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos. “This task force is a clear example of how a cooperative team approach can be effective in making our citizens safe.”
Gregory estimated there are approximately 600 Vagos members spread throughout Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah. Chapters also reportedly exist in Mexico and as far away as Germany and New Zealand. The gang, which began in the 1960s in Riverside County, made headlines in September when one of its members was arrested for shooting and killing a rival Hells Angel in a Nevada casino.