The Sheriff’s Office recently announced the end of a nearly four-year gang investigation, which led to 38 drug and gun-related arrests in Santa Barbara’s North County, San Luis Obispo County, and Kern County.
Since August 2012, Sheriff’s detectives worked alongside officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the IRS to arrest gang members and associates, narcotics dealers, and individuals selling firearms illegally in the Santa Maria Valley, said Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Kelly Hoover in a prepared statement.
In a complex investigation, undercover ATF agents purchased and confiscated 45 illegally sold firearms, 11,109 rounds of ammunition, 14.6 pounds of methamphetamine, 2.1 pounds of heroin, and 167 grams of cocaine. According to the Sheriff’s Office release, the drugs were worth $786,550 on the street. Authorities also seized $84,698 in cash from the gun and drug sales.
The operation yielded 38 arrests of suspects ranging in age from 20-66. Residents of Santa Maria, Buellton, Taft, and Nipomo, 26 people faced state charges related to gang, gun, and narcotic violations. Twelve Santa Maria residents faced federal gun and narcotic charges.
Most suspects were booked into jail outside of Santa Barbara County or were moved to state prison facilities after their court cases concluded, said Sheriff’s Adjutant Brad McVay in an email to media. According to Hoover, the Sheriff’s Office didn’t send out a press release prior to the investigation’s May 26 end date because suspects were still being sought.