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Massive Law Enforcement Sweep Targets Deadly Taliban Gang

FBI San Francisco March 07, 2009
  • Public Affairs Specialist Michele Ernst (415) 553-7590

This morning, over 500 law enforcement personnel conducted anti-gang operations in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and various other Bay Area cities targeting the violent East Palo Alto/Menlo Park-based Taliban gang. Local, state, and federal officers—including FBI SWAT teams from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Diego—executed 29 search warrants, arrested 30 gang members and associates, and seized significant quantities of drugs, a number of firearms, and several vehicles. The following individuals were taken into custody without incident this morning:

Alfred Washington, 42
Amanuel Hinruy, 22
Andre Anderson, 33
Anthony Pratt, 33
Christine James, 30
Darrel Snowden, 28
Delin Cole, 20
Dontae Gardner, 32
Emiliano Morfin, 22
Gary Carter, 33
James Bagby, 24
Jason Fitch, 26
Jason Reese, 27
Javier Yepez, 22
John Schofield, 19
Juan Lopez, 20
Kevin White, 30
Lonnie Brown, 22
Marcus Lewis, 29
Nathan Farris, 25
Nathan Gardner, Jr., 36
Raymond Richard, 29
Rajnesh Lal, 26
Rodney Mason, 19
Sharmaine Porter, 30
Stoney Gipson, 24
Tahir Millener, 30
Towanna Deldridge, 29
Vianna Powell, 40
Warren Jordan, Sr., 47

Individuals arrested on federal warrants will make their initial appearance Monday morning in federal court in Oakland. Those arrested pursuant to state process will appear in state court.

The Taliban gang initially formed in 2002 in response to a war between the Sac Street Hispanic gang and the Midtown Hogs. A group of Hogs joined with members of the G-Town gang to retaliate against the Hispanics. They called themselves the Taliban and initially acted as the enforcers for the Hogs, but soon grew larger and more powerful. Today, the Taliban has almost completely overshadowed and marginalized the Hogs. Since its inception, the Taliban gang has been associated with armed robberies, strong arm robberies, drug trafficking, weapons possession, and homicides in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and extending to the wider San Francisco Bay Area. The gang and its elements have been directly involved in around 12 homicides, 30 violent felonies, 25 violent misdemeanors, and 80 non-violent misdemeanors since 2002. Members of the gang are believed to traffic in methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, and weapons.

An increase in violence caught the attention of local and federal law enforcement, and in 2007 East Palo Alto Police Department, Menlo Park Police Department, and the FBI began what would end up being an over 18-month investigation into the activities of the Taliban gang. The investigation culminated in today’s multi-city takedown.

“Drugs, guns, and violence poison our communities and perpetuate a sense of hopelessness that can drive young men and women into the arms of gangs,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Charlene B. Thornton. “Today, we have taken a major step toward clearing the way for members of these communities to make their own path without the constant fear of gang violence.”

East Palo Alto Police Chief Ronald L. Davis said, “The East Palo Alto community is fed up with gangs and its associated crime and violence. This joint-operation represents a pinnacle moment in the fight against gangs in East Palo Alto and the Bay Area. Our message is clear: We will not tolerate gangs and violence in our communities.”

Menlo Park Police Chief Bruce Goitia indicated the suspects were all considered high level targets who had been investigated by the special task force for over 18 months. “This operation was the largest collaborative effort in the Bay area in 30 years and the impacts in the form of improved safety in our communities should be felt for years to come.”

The FBI, East Palo Alto Police Department, and the Menlo Park Police Department thank the following agencies for their support and assistance in today’s successful operation: San Jose Police Department, Sunnyvale Police Department, California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, San Francisco Police Department, San Leandro Police Department, Stockton Police Department, Gilroy Police Department, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department, San Mateo Narcotics Enforcement Team, United States Marshals Service, Twin Cities Police Department, Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department, Richmond Police Department, Atherton Police Department, Redwood City Police Department, San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, and the California Department of Corrections Fugitive Apprehension Unit.

Media inquiries may be directed to FBI Special Agent Joseph Schadler at 415-553-7450, East Palo Alto Police Department Captain Carl Estelle at 650-464-6831 or Menlo Park Police Department Community Engagement Manager Cherise Brandell at 650-288-5083.