Santa Barbara – Seven attempted murders, a gang murder, and “a string of stabbings and assaults” were noted by Santa Barbara Police Department Chief Cam Sanchez in public statements to the media on November 20th as evidence that organized Mexican Mafia activities in The Mission City have become a serious public safety concern. In his comments to the press, Sanchez described SBPD efforts—in concert with the FBI, DEA, and other law enforcement agencies—as gaining traction with the recent arrest of 68 known gang members trafficking in “drugs, guns, gambling, and other criminal enterprises.”
Operation Falling Down, defined by SBPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Riley Harwood as benchmarking “the end of a beginning”, was local law enforcement’s response to a dramatic rise in serious crime in Santa Barbara that began in mid-2012.
Harwood pointed to those brought into custody pursuant to increased crime suppression efforts, highlighting the arrests of Raymond Macias, Cristian Botella, Edgar Cordova, and Marcial Garcia, all of whom are individuals named in the city’s recent injunction against gang associations among known felons. The arrests took place along with the seizure of a variety of evidence including $72,000 in cash, 12 firearms, 8.5 ounces of heroin, more than two pounds of methamphetamine, nearly a pound of cocaine, and processed marijuana products.
In his media statements, Sanchez made clear reference to a relationship between local gang activity and the tentacles of the Mexican Mafia now reaching into both Eastside and Westside gang enclaves. “You’re going to find moms and dads and sons and daughters involved in crime together,” Sanchez declared, while assuring the public that “the Santa Barbara Police Department will go to all lengths to keep the city safe” yet admitting that “even in paradise we have issues.”
Photos: Courtesy Santa Barbara Police Department
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