DHS Arrests 12 in MS-13 Raid in Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz, CA- A violent local arm of the dreaded El Salvadoran street gang, Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13, was taken down by the Department of Homeland Security in an early morning raid on Monday. Twelve men were arrested in 3 locations, Live Oaks, Santa Cruz, and Capitola.
The local group, called Santa Cruz Salvatrucha Locos 13, was thought to be responsible for at least 2 murders in Santa Cruz. They have been under investigation for 5 years, and authorities believed there was a significant threat to public safety. Firearms were seized from several residences.
Santa Cruz Police assisted in the arrests.
“This investigation into this very violent gang focused on the shootings, murders, extortion, and sales of both heroin and methamphetamine in our community.” Deputy Santa Cruz Police Chief Dan Flippo
Ten of the 12 men were listed as: Velarmino Escobar-Ayala, aka Meduza; Tomas Rivera, aka Profugo; Ismael Alvarenga-Rivera, aka Casper; Willfredo Edgardo-Ayala, aka Chino; Jose David Abrego-Galdamez, aka Largo; Melvin Lopez, aka Sharky; Alexander Martinez-Flores, aka Pocar; Gerber Morales, aka Choco; Emilio Escobar-Albarnga, aka Diablo; and Josue Alcedis Escobar-Cerritos, aka Penguino.
Santa Cruz recently declared itself a “Sanctuary City.” The noise of explosions and the sight of armored SWAT vehicle unnerved many of the residents. Many of them thought it was an ICE raid when they saw the black vehicles with the DHS logo on the side.
“Let me be very clear — this was in no way an immigration raid. We were focusing on a very violent gang that has been preying on our city streets for over a decade… Everyone we arrested is going to prison, not deportation. The Santa Cruz Police Department is extraodinarily aware of the fear that exists in our community regarding immigration raids.” Dan Flippo
While others who heard the helicopters and explosions and saw the vehicles started the rumor that it was an ICE raid, the fact is that the city of Santa Cruz just made being a law enforcement officer extremely difficult.