Three ICE agents shot during anti-gang raid — Petaluma, CA
Three federal immigration agents were shot and wounded in Petaluma early Thursday while taking part in an antigang sweep prompted by a 2010 triple killing in South San Francisco, authorities said.
The raid was part of a Bay Area-wide operation in which federal and local authorities arrested 19 people, most of them alleged gang members, on suspicion of racketeering, conspiracy to commit violent crimes including murder, robbery and obstruction of justice, and other offenses.
The three SWAT officers with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency were shot near a home at McNeil Avenue and South McDowell Boulevard around 4 a.m. All three were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, said Virginia Kice, an agency spokeswoman.
Federal officers surrounded the one-story home before dawn, knocked a large hole in the garage door and burst inside, witnesses said. Neighbors said they later heard numerous shots.
One person was arrested at the home, Kice said. The names of the suspect and wounded federal agents have not been released.
The raid was related to an investigation into a 2010 drive-by shooting in South San Francisco that left three young men dead and three juveniles wounded, said Lt. Alan Normandy, a South San Francisco police spokesman.
Normandy said that in the last year the investigation expanded beyond the triple killing to involve multiple agencies, including the federal Department of Homeland Security.
Most of the 19 people arrested Thursday were members of the 500 Block and C Street Norteño gang factions based in South San Francisco, federal prosecutors said.
Four of the arrestees could face the death penalty if convicted and another 12 could face life in prison, prosecutors said.
“Today is a welcome day for residents of South San Francisco and a very bad day for an entrenched gang based here in the Bay Area,” Clark Settles, special agent in charge for Immigration and Customs Enforcement special investigations, said in a statement. “This indictment and the related arrests serve as a warning to local gangs about the consequences of using violence and fear to maintain control of their turf.”
The killings that prompted the investigation happened Dec. 22, 2010, at the corner of Linden Avenue and an alley called Eighth Lane in South San Francisco.
Shot to death were Omar Cortez, 18, Gonzalo Avalos, 19, and Hector Flores, 20, who were standing with acquaintances when someone opened fire from a passing Chevrolet Impala.
The survivors, who suffered minor injuries, refused to cooperate with investigators, police said at the time.
Arrested Thursday on suspicion of racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder were Joseph Ortiz, 22, Giovanni Rimando Ascenio, 22, Raymond Hembry, 33, and Mario Bergren, 23, all of South San Francisco; Justin Whipple, 19, Michael Ortiz, 48, and Michael Ortiz Jr., 25, of San Bruno; Victor Flores, 20, of Petaluma; Benjamin Campos-Gonzalez, 21, Rodrigo Aguayo, 23, and Gregorio Guzman, 38, of San Mateo; Armando Acosta, 27, of Pacifica; James Hembry, 31, and Andrew Bryant, 29, of Daly City; Peter Davis, 26, of San Francisco; and Richard Martinez, 25, of Hayward.
Joseph Ortiz, Flores, Whipple and Campos-Gonzalez are also charged with three counts of murder in aid of racketeering and other crimes in connection with the December 2010 killings, prosecutors said. All four could face the death penalty if found guilty.
Tanya Rodriguez, 45, and Betty Ortiz, 49, of San Bruno and Louis Rodriguez, 30, of Millbrae, were charged with being accessories after the fact to the killings.