Gang Recruiters Busted

Gang Recruiters Busted

Ventura County – “We just need a few good men,” the recruiting slogan of the United States Marine Corps certainly doesn’t apply to the activities of criminal street gangs engaged in the enlistment of underage juveniles into their less-than-heroic ranks.

Fillmore Brain Trust

Fillmore Brain Trust

According to Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Jeremy Paris, an ongoing investigation into the activities of a Fillmore area criminal street gang produced “a multi-location search warrant” that led to the arrests of no less than eight suspected gang members, one of whom is a juvenile, on the morning of December 19th.

Brad Beltran

Brad Beltran

The investigation had its origins on October 31, 2014 when the VCSD Gang Unit served a search warrant in the City of San Fernando at the home of Salvador Velgara, 26, a documented member of the Fillmore area gang and suspected of involvement in firearms and methamphetamine violations. At the time of that search, deputies discovered a video record of a gang initiation known as a “jump in”, wherein inductees are subjected to violent assault by senior gang members.

Vincent Meraz

Vincent Meraz

Additional investigation produced evidence that another initiation of two male juveniles had taken place in 2013 at a Fillmore residence at the behest of Brad Beltran, 25 of Fillmore, Vincent Meraz, 23 of Piru, Damien Virgen, 23 of Fillmore, Rudy Meraz, 18 of Piru.

Damien Virgen

Damien Virgen

With that evidence at hand, according to Paris, “a combined team of 36 Sheriff’s Office investigators and deputies served warrants at five locations” on December 19th whereupon Vincent and Rudy Meraz were arrested and charged with solicitation or recruitment to participate in a criminal street gang with enhancements relating to the juvenile status of those being recruited. Beltran and Velgara, already in custody on unrelated charges, were arrested and booked on the same charges while Virgen turned himself in to authorities pursuant to telephone contact, and Joseph Cabral was arrested at his residence where he was found to be in possession of illegal weapons and methamphetamine.

Joseph Cabral

Joseph Cabral

Rudy Meraz

Rudy Meraz

All seven remain in custody at Ventura County Jail.

Photos: Courtesy Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, Ventura County Jail Booking

Read more:

Sespe Sun: Gang Members arrested for recruiting

VCSTAR: Seven accused of recruiting teens into gang

Gang Recruiters Busted was last modified: January 14th, 2019 by admin
Categories: Ventura

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