Fifteen people were arrested across Santa Clara County last week as part of a gang task force co-sponsored by the Mountain View Police Department. The task force has been a regular operation for about 20 years, teaming up various South Bay police agencies to check on known gang members.
About 90 law enforcement officer participated in the March 3 operation, including agents from the FBI. Bystanders in Mountain View reported seeing about a dozen FBI agents along the 400 block of N. Rengstorff, and they asked the Voice what was going on.
Nelson described it as a routine operation that's held about four times a year to ensure registered gang members are complying with their probation or parole terms. FBI officials have frequently participated in this task force as observers to learn how local law enforcement handles the job, she said.
The sight of federal law enforcement prompted some to question whether the gang sweep could be targeting individuals for deportation. Last month, Santa Cruz police officials claimed they were misled after coordinating a gang raid with officials from federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. That operation sparked a fierce public outcry after it was revealed 10 out of the 12 arrests were based on immigration violations, not criminal charges.
Nelson gave assurances that immigration status had no bearing on the March 3 operation in Santa Clara County.
"Nobody's been deported; nobody's been contacting ICE; nothing like that has happened," she said. "This operation was to make sure that everyone living in our town feels safe. It had nothing to do with people's legal status."
Mountain View Police could identify only five of the 15 individuals who were arrested. The other 10 arrests were made by other agencies, Nelson said.
Among those arrested were Jennifer Anthony, Sefra Jasemine Martinez. and Jesus Flores on suspicion of possessing methamphetamine pipes in violation of their parole and probation terms. Edward Charles Ponce was arrested for suspicion of being under the influence of heroin in violation of his parole. Manuel Dejon Wright was arrested for marijuana possession in violation of his parole.
The Sheriff's office could not immediately identify the other 10 arrested people.