OAKLAND -- At least 18 suspected members and associates of a violent Oakland gang believed responsible for crimes including murder and robbery were arrested Friday by more than 200 local, state and federal officers at two dozen sites in Oakland and other Bay Area cities.
Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan said the raids resulted from the suspects' failure to adhere to the terms of the Operation Ceasefire program to stop their violent lifestyles. The chief said the arrests fulfill a promise he made last year "to use every legal means possible" to bring such offenders to justice.
Those arrested are members or associates of the Case Boys gang, based mostly in East Oakland, police said. Raids were carried out in Oakland, Antioch, Brentwood and Pacifica starting about 5 a.m. and lasting for two hours. Names of those arrested, including some women, were not released. Police said they ranged in age from 18 to the mid-30s.
Those arrested Friday were booked on suspicion of a variety of crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, assault on a police officer, conspiracy to commit robbery and pimping and pandering. Elevenguns were seized.
Some of the more violent crimes they are suspected of involve a long-standing feud with another gang known as Money Team, police said.
Jordan, who called Case Boys "probably the most violent group of young people" he has seen in his career, said their rivalry with Money Team "wasn't for money, wasn't for turf. They hated the other gang and anyone associated with them."
Lt. Tony Jones, who commanded the six-week investigation that was headed by Officers Anthony Tedesco and Kathryn Jones, said Case Boys is an offshoot of another gang known as Nut Case. Over a six-week spree in 2002, the Nut Case gang was responsible for at least five murders and scores of robberies, police said.
Before Friday, police said, they had already arrested at least 44 people with ties to the two gangs, primarily Money Team members. Violence between the groups had escalated late last year and at least one shooting in early January resulted in a Money Team member being killed.
Police said members of the two gangs were among many individuals warned last October through Operation Ceasefire, one of Jordan's strategies to reduce crime in Oakland, to change their violent behavior or be brought to justice.
Jordan said there was a brief cessation of violence between the groups, but when it picked up again later in the year, police made them top enforcement priorities. As part of the investigation into Case Boys, some of its members had been followed by police around the clock, seven days a week.
The raids involved Oakland police and other local, state and federal agencies, including agents from the FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Drug Enforcement Administration; Internal Revenue Service; California Highway Patrol; Alameda County Sheriff's Office; and the state Department of Justice.
The news conference drew top officials from around the Bay Area, along with state Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Such raids "benefit those who desire to live in a city free of violence, free of crime," Harris said.
She described the Case Boys group as a "gang roaming the streets of Oakland terrorizing good and hardworking people."
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, whose office will prosecute those arrested, said the raids were an example of "fighting violent crime to bring it to an end. The show of force you saw is a testament to the strength of law enforcement."
Mayor Jean Quan said she hoped the arrests will "have a lasting impact on the peace of neighborhoods" and that despite the Police Department's low staffing numbers, "by working with (other agencies) we still have the resources to focus on those creating the most violence."
One of the community members present was the Rev. George Cummings, senior pastor of Imani Community Church, who chairs the Ceasefire program.
"We bring a moral voice and a moral conviction to this," he said.
The message sent by Ceasefire, which was obvious Friday, he said, is, "We want the violence to stop, the shootings to stop and put down your guns or face the consequences."