California Attorney General Rob Bonta, along with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, today announced the arrest of 34 suspects as well as the seizure of 64 illegal weapons ammunition, and illicit drugs that included fentanyl, as part of a multiagency operation targeting a criminal street gang in Fresno County. Operation “Broken Bonds” occurred yesterday, May 25, 2023, and targeted the Varrio Colonia Parlier Nortenos criminal street gang, who are alleged to be responsible for an increase in violence, including homicides, and illegal firearms in the Fresno area, specifically the cities of Reedley and Parlier. Additionally, the group is accused of making threats to local law enforcement, including a 2022 incident involving arson against a Parlier Police Department vehicle. The investigation was conducted by the Fresno County Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC) task force; Fresno County Sheriff’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of California; Fresno County District Attorney’s Office; Fresno Police Department; California Highway Patrol; and the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Investigation, High Impact Investigation Team (HIIT).
“Today’s announcement is a result of strong partnerships by law enforcement agencies in the Fresno area, and throughout our state, to address violence and criminal enterprises,” said Attorney General Bonta. “This operation sends a strong message that criminal activity targeting our communities and threatening public servants protecting Californians will not be tolerated. I want to thank the work of our local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies for their collaboration in making Fresno County a safer place. Protecting public safety is our highest priority and we won’t rest until the job is done.”
The operation concludes an investigation that began in 2021. As part of yesterday’s operation, the agencies seized 64 guns, including ghost guns, AR-style rifles, semi-automatic handguns; extended magazines, ammunition, and body armor; illicit drugs including fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine; and approximately $26,509 in currency. Additionally, the investigation prevented at least four crimes, including a mass shooting.
As both state and federal search warrants, and arrests warrants were issued as part of the operation, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California will be prosecuting the case. The suspects face charges ranging from homicide, conspiracy to commit homicide, home invasion, armed robbery, carjacking, burglary, illegal weapons possession, narcotics sales, transportation of narcotics, extortion, and auto theft.
The High Impact Investigation Team (HIIT) is a California Department of Justice, Bureau of Investigation-led multiagency task force, federally funded through the national High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program. It is comprised of members from the California Department of Justice, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation-Special Services Unit, Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Madera County Sheriff’s Office, Kings County Sheriff’s Office, Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, Fresno Police Department, Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, California Highway Patrol, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. As part of DOJ’s task force program, the participating agencies of HIIT work in collaboration to combat drug trafficking organizations, violent career criminals and gangs. These unique and essential teams use the latest technology and advanced investigative techniques and work alongside local, state, and federal law enforcement to enhance investigations into violent criminals and organized crime throughout the state.