SANTA CLARA COUNTY – On Monday, July 13th, a male subject – later identified as 27-year-old Kurt Gregory Pinelli from San Jose – entered Bank of the West in the 14900 block of Camden Avenue in unincorporated San Jose. When Pinelli handed a teller a demand note, out of fear, the teller gave Pinelli an undisclosed amount of cash.
Once Pinelli had the cash in hand, he fled the bank on foot. Sheriff’s Office detectives reviewed the surveillance videos and were able to identify Pinelli from a previous investigation, which had involved the illegal activities of a northern California gang during operation “Red October.”
In that case – a multi-month, wide-ranging law enforcement investigation – two dozen San Jose–based members and associates of Nuestra Familia, a violent prison and street gang, now face dozens of felony charges ranging from conspiracy, to smuggling drugs, weapons and cell phones into jail, and attempted murder.
“Operation Red October” – named for the gang’s colors and the month of a major raid – led to the arrest and seizure of thousands of dollars in illicit cash, methamphetamine, guns, and coded gang communications called “kites.” Some kites included organizational charts, explicit directions on what kind of weapons should be in their personal arsenals, and the deadline for killing someone. The suspects, some of whom had street monikers such as Pistol, Monster and Bam Bam, could face major prison time if convicted. Their trial date was scheduled for April 13. Six of the charged suspects remain fugitives.
For months, the FBI’s Santa Clara County Violent Gang Task Force reviewed hundreds of coded gang writings and interviewed high-ranking Nuestra Familia sources. The investigation revealed that incarcerated Nuestra Familia gangsters were using the kites – smuggled in and out using prisoners’ body cavities – to direct street gang members to commit robberies, sell drugs and handle “removals” – gang code for killings.
The investigation was a collaboration of the DA’s Office with the FBI, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, San Jose Police Department, Campbell Police Department, Santa Clara County Probation, California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, DEA, CHP, the Regional Auto Theft Task Force, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Milpitas and Gilroy Police Departments.
After a joint investigation into the Bank of the West robbery with the FBI and San Jose Police Department, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office arrested Pinelli on July 14th at approximately 3:00 am in San Jose. He was arrested for the above bank robbery in addition to charges stemming from a July 11 bank robbery in San Jose. Sheriff’s Detectives were able to recover evidence connecting him that bank robbery as well.
Pinelli is currently being housed at the Santa Clara County Jail for PC 211, and he has no-bail status at this time. Anyone with information on him is encouraged to contact Detective Justin Harper at the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office at (408) 808-4532.