FBI task force targets suspected Bay Area gang members

CONTRA COSTA (BCN) -- A joint operation of 12 local and federal law enforcement agencies completed a massive gang bust in eastern and central Contra Costa County last week, law enforcement officials announced Wednesday.

In total, 24 suspects believed to be in the Norteno gang have been arrested for a variety of crimes, including attempted murder, human trafficking and drug sales. All 24 suspects were arrested in a series of raids across the county on Aug. 3.

The investigation grew from Concord police looking into an uptick in violence in the city about a year ago. It quickly expanded to encompass a wide array of regional gang activity and culminated in last week's arrests.

Concord police Chief Guy Swanger said at a news conference in Martinez today that he guarantees all arrested were involved in violence. The violent Norteno gang "gets its profits from preying on our community," 

Officials called it one of the biggest operations in the county in years, not only because of the number of suspects involved, but also because of the broad collaboration between multiple law enforcement agencies. 

Officers from the FBI, the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office, the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office, the Contra Costa County Probation Department, the California Highway Patrol, the state Department of 

Corrections and Rehabilitation and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives were all involved, along with police from Concord, Pittsburg, Antioch, Richmond and El Cerrito.

The Aug. 3 raid involved between 250 and 300 police officers. They searched 21 houses in Antioch, Concord, Pittsburg, Bay Point and elsewhere, seized 18 guns, large quantities of methamphetamine and heroin, broke up two marijuana growing operations and seized a Mercedes-Benz, a Porsche and a boat believed to have been purchased through illegal gains as well as $15,000 in cash.

Among the 24 suspects, Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Aron DeFerrari identified the two leaders of the gang as Sean Dunne, 31, and Mariano Coronado, 28.

DeFerrari said there are an estimated 75-100 Norteno gang members in Contra Costa County. With last week's arrests, he said as much as half of the gang could be behind bars now since an estimated 10 to 15 members are already in custody.

Charges have already been filed for all suspects, he said, including for attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon, human trafficking, pimping, witness 

None of the charges are related to a string of highway shootings that have drawn concern in the East Bay since late last year, though DeFerrari said that he thinks some of those arrested were likely involved in them. None of the charges filed involve the highway shootings.