Operation busts over 40 criminals in Merced 

The California Department of Justice worked with local agencies to bust a street gang.

Over 40 individuals were arrested as part of Operation Red Rooster, the California Department of Justice announced. 

Along with the arrests, the DOJ seized a substantial quantity of narcotics and numerous firearms as it targeted a criminal street gang in Merced. 

The big picture: The DOJ spearheaded the operation, leading to the confiscation of over 60 pounds of narcotics and the seizure of 27 guns.

  • The initiative commenced in 2021 subsequent to the Livingston Police Department’s investigation into a homicide and attempted homicide associated with a prominent criminal street gang.
  • The investigation expanded over time, drawing the involvement of various law enforcement agencies, including the California DOJ, Livingston Police Department, Merced County Sheriff, Merced Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
  •  Notably, one of the arrested suspects, Freddy Hernandez, was held accountable for a homicide in Livingston that occurred in November 2022. 
  • The operation, spanning approximately 18 months, culminated in the arrest of 41 suspects on charges related to homicide, attempted homicide, gun trafficking, and drug trafficking, coupled with gang enhancements.

What they’re saying: “Operation Red Rooster was a success because of the hard work of so many dedicated law enforcement partners,” Bonta said. “I am proud of our Special Agents for their unwavering commitment to this investigation, and I’m grateful for the work of our law enforcement partners here in Merced County and statewide, as we stand together to combat gang violence. Our work to address the organized criminal street gang crisis is saving lives and making communities safer – but there is more to be done. We won’t rest until California communities are free from gang activity, including here in the Central Valley.”

  • Merced County District Attorney Nicole Silveira added, “This operation is a testament to what can be accomplished when we all work together toward a common goal. Because of this work, the people of Merced County are going to sleep tonight in a safer, better community.”
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