Authorities use analytics to map crimes, link suspects in the South Bay

Federal and local law agencies in the South Bay celebrated the success of an 18-month operation to remove criminals and illegal guns from the streets. Analytics were a central component of the case.

“When we started our analysis, it was actually because of a series of linked shootings,” said Marisa McKeown, director of the District Attorney’s crime strategies unit.

She says her investigators mapped heat signatures from gun crimes from 2017 until this past April. Each red dot represents a crime, and detectives were able to trace scores of shootings to the Seven Trees neighborhood.

“Gun violence is an everyday reality. Not just for community members, but for our youngest people. For our teenagers, our kids that live here,” said Jonathan Velasquez, president of the Seven Trees Neighborhood Association.

Federal agents says these patterns are similar to other large metropolitan areas across the country.

“Illegal drugs and illegal weapons are a national epidemic that everybody in law enforcement is aware of,” said FBI Special Agent-in-Charge John Bennett.

In an 18-month investigation dubbed “Operation Redwood,” detectives linked the patterns with suspects who were involved in overlapping crimes. In April of this year, multiple search warrants were served throughout the neighborhood which netted eight arrests, nine firearms, two pounds of cocaine, six pounds of marijuana, two ounces of heroin, and $42,000.

“No neighborhood should have to live in fear and be victimized because a small number of individuals in that neighborhood are armed with firearms,” said San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia. Added Santa Clara County District Atty. Jeff Rosen, “You’re not just a dot on a heat map. You’re not a crime scene. You’re schools of students. Churches of worshipers. Homes of hardworking people.”

Officials say the same analytics that led to success in this neighborhood can be duplicated in other sections of the city.

“There are other neighborhoods that need attention. And quite frankly, this is an operation that we can definilty replicate in other areas of the city,” said Chief Garcia.

One of the eight suspects arrested in “Operation Redwood,” 26-year-old Jose Ramirez, is facing charges for the murder of Nathan Johnson-Harper that happened December 18, 2018. Witnesses say Ramirez shot the victim as Johnson-Harper sat in a car, then the suspect ran away. Ramirez is charged with murder, and will be in court on June 13, 2019 to enter a plea.

FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Bennett cautioned other criminals to check over their shoulders because, “We’re coming for you.”