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SLO County SWAT lends hand in Tulare County gang arrests 

Members of the SLO County Sheriff’s Department SWAT team helped another Central California county round up and arrest several members of a notoriously violent gang during an Oct. 1 sweep.

Department spokesperson Tony Cipolla confirmed that the department was part of a multi-agency task force that arrested 52 individuals as part of an ongoing investigation into activity by the Norteño gang in and around Tulare County.

“It was a mutual aid request from Tulare County because of the large volume of warrants being served.” Cipolla wrote in an email repose to questions from New Times. “We provided assistance in the form of a 15-person SED (Special Enforcement Detail otherwise known as a SWAT team) during a 24 hour period.”

According to a statement from the office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, the investigation and operation began after a rash of homicides in and around Tulare County. The operation, called “Red Sol” was conducted by a task force consisting of several law enforcement agencies, including Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, the Visalia Police Department, the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, and the California Department of Justice and California Highway Patrol. .

“This operation captured dangerous criminals accused of terrorizing Central Valley communities through murder and violence,” Harris said in a written statement. “We will continue to target violent street gangs by dismantling their networks and taking these dangerous criminals off our streets.”

The operation netted at least one high profile arrest: that of Pedro “Pistol Pete” Sanchez, a Norteño leader who was “in charge of running the gang’s illicit day-to-day operations,” according to Harris’ office. The individuals arrested during the operation face felony charges including conspiracy to commit homicide, attempted homicide, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, extortion, home invasion, weapons possession, and sales of narcotics.

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