Gang investigation nets 26 arrests; 4 still sought

6/11/2013

By ANGIE HAFLICH

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

A 21-month investigation into criminal gang activity in Garden City and Finney County has culminated in numerous charges and arrests, as well as the issuance of four arrest warrants.

The Garden City Police Department's Operation Frontline investigation, aided by more than 60 other local, state and federal law enforcement officers, resulted in the apprehension of 26 of the individuals on Wednesday, and arrest warrants have been issued for four men whose whereabouts are currently unknown.

"I think this is going to have a great impact on this particular gang and their activities, and hopefully curtail their activities tremendously, but we're hopeful that this sends a message to any other gangs that are operating in our community that law enforcement here is not going to sit by and allow them to do what they please," Finney County Sheriff Kevin Bascue said during a press conference Monday.

One of the individuals arrested Wednesday, Heriberto Ramirez, 27, 950 Jennie Barker Road, was arrested on allegations of three counts of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated arson, related to an incident that occurred on June 22, 2011, in which Ramirez is accused of setting fire to a rival gang member's mobile home located at 4101 E. U.S. Highway 50, No. 366. At the time, the dwelling was occupied by three people, who were uninjured.

Ramirez also faces allegtions of aggravated battery, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, felony criminal damage to property, incitement to riot and two counts of battery for an incident that occurred Oct. 9, 2011, as well as aggravated battery for an incident that occurred in March 2012.

Other criminal activity uncovered during the investigation included home invasions, gang initiations, aggravated battery, gun sales, drug sales, burglaries and possession of stolen property.

In addition to the arrests, the investigation resulted in the seizure of six firearms, approximately 153.3 grams of methamphetamine, 3.2 grams of cocaine, 28 grams of marijuana, a small quantity of heroin and several items of drug paraphernalia. Officers were also able to recover several items of property that had been stolen from residences and vehicles in Garden City.

The investigation began in October 2011, after the GCPD responded to the report of a home invasion. Several individuals involved were identified as members of a local criminal street gang. After a review of other cases involving members of the same criminal street gang, the investigation was initiated to resolve older cases and suppress future gang crimes.

Agencies assisting the GCPD with the investigation along with the Finney County Sheriff's Office, were the Garden City Drug Enforcement Administration, the Wichita Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Dodge City Police Department, the Ford County Sheriff's Office, the Kearny County Sheriff's Office, the Ulysses Police Department, the Wichita Police Department, the Kansas Department of Corrections, the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Amarillo (Texas) Police Department and Mid-States Organized Crime Information Center.

The criminal cases are being prosecuted by the Finney County Attorney's Office, the Kansas Attorney General's Office, the Ford County Attorney's Office, and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Wichita.

"There are going to be prosecutions coming out of the U.S. Attorney's Office," Finney County Attorney Susan Richmeier said during Monday's press conference. "Our office has worked closely with the U.S. Attorney and also the Kansas Attorney General, and we're trying to make sure that when we're prosecuting these cases, that they're prosecuted so that the defendants will be getting as much time as possible. That's why some of them will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney because the conviction time will be higher than it would be in the state of Kansas. So we're trying to make sure they do stay off the street now that we've got them in custody."

Four individuals identified during the investigation have not been located. According to a press release issued Monday, they are Bernabed Gramajo, 5735 Old Post Road, wanted on allegations of battery, aggravated battery, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, criminal damage and incitement to riot; Joey Terrazas, 1301 N. Main St., wanted on allegations of burglary and theft; Joaquin Ceniceros, Ulysses, wanted on an allegation of sale of cocaine; and Victor Guzman, Amarillo, wanted on allegations of aggravated battery and incitement to riot.

Anyone with information regarding the men's whereabouts is encouraged to contact the GCPD at 276-1300. Those wishing to remain anonymous, may contact Crime Stoppers at 275-7807 or text GCTIP and tip information to 847411 (Tip411).

Other arrests made Wednesday as part of Operation Frontline were:

* Hector Sanchez-Morales, 22, 4170 E. U.S. Highway 50, No. 314, was arrested on allegations of battery, aggravated battery, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, criminal damage and incitement to riot.

* Jesus Barba, 22, and David Valencia, 27, both of Wichita, were arrested in Wichita on allegations of battery, aggravated battery, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, criminal damage and incitement to riot.

* Luz Zavala-Mejia, 37, 950 Jennie Barker Road, No. 47, and Yomaira Ramirez, 23, 603 Howerton Place, were arrested on allegations of aggravated battery.

* Augustin Moreno, 17, 5982 Waterhole Drive, was arrested at the Southwest Kansas Regional Juvenile Detention Center on allegations of aggravated battery and incitement to riot.

* Michael Benitez, 28, 3015 Crane Road, No. 8, was arrested on allegations of aggravated battery and incitement to riot.

* Vincente Martinez, 21, 1285 Rolling Hills Road, was arrested on allegations of aggravated battery and incitement to riot.

* Crystal Herrera, 31, already in custody in the Finney County Jail, was arrested on allegations of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

* Juan Limon, 23, 2720 Fleming St., was arrested on allegations of the sale of methamphetamine, attempted sale of methamphetamine and theft.

* Tatiana Arredondo, 18, already in custody in the Finney County Jail, was arrested on allegations of sale of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school, use of a communication facility for drug transactions, no drug-tax stamp and sale of methamphetamine.

* Efren Arzate Jr., 18, 1353 Trails End, was arrested on an allegation of gang recruitment.

* Gabriel Chavez, 36, already in custody at the Finney County, was arrested on allegations of possession of heroin, possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

* Jesse Guzman, 31, already in custody in the Ford County Jail, was arrested on allegations of sale of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

* Robert Titos Guzman, 32, Dodge City, was arrested on an allegation of gang recruitment.

* Alfonso Morales, 24, 5795 Old Post Road, was arrested on an allegation of gang recruitment.

* Rocky Montez, 26, 1110 Safford St., was arrested on allegations of possession of heroin, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

* Guadalupe Morales, 16, Junction City, was arrested on an allegation of gang recruitment.

Also arrested during the course of the investigation was Luis Molina, 29, Dodge City, who was arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration on allegations of sale of methamphetamine, no drug-tax stamp and use of a communication device to facilitate a drug crime.

During the course of attempting to locate and arrest individuals on warrants, Miguel Enriquez, 17, 615 N. Ninth St., was arrested at the Law Enforcement Center on a municipal warrant for failing to appear on a curfew violation. Enriquez was lodged into the Southwest Kansas Regional Juvenile Detention Center on an arrest-and-detain order.

Additional suspects were already in the custody of either the Kansas Department of Corrections or the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Criminal charges have been filed against those individuals in Finney County District Court and detainers are in the process of being placed on:

* Oscar Urrutia, 27, currently in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections, was charged with allegations of aggravated burglary, sale of methamphetamine and attempted sale of methamphetamine.

* Harvey Morales, 25, currently in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections, was charged with allegations of battery, aggravated battery, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, criminal damage and incitement to riot.

* Michael Martinez, 26, currently in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections, was charged with allegations of battery, aggravated battery, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, criminal damage and incitement to riot.

* Marcos Gramajo, 30, currently in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, was charged with allegations of battery, aggravated battery, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, criminal damage and incitement to riot.

* Anthony Jovan Reyna, 23, currently in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections, was indicted in U.S. District Court, Wichita, on 17 counts relating to the alleged possession of a firearm by a felon and sales and possession of methamphetamine.

Additional information learned during the investigation led to eight arrests between July 2012 and April of this year.

Those include: Miguel Herrera, 27, and Omar Quinonez, 27, both of Garden City, were each arrested on July 9, 2011, on allegations of attempted murder and other felony charges.

Frank Garcia, 24, Garden City, was arrested Sept. 17, 2012, on a misdemeanor warrant.

Adrian Gomez, 17, Garden City, was arrested Sept. 17, 2012, on an allegation of assaulting a law enforcement officer.

Harvey Morales, 25, Garden City, arrested Sept. 25, 2012, on allegations of kidnapping and other criminal allegations.

Rocky Gomez, 33, Garden City, was arrested on Sept. 28, 2012, on allegations of possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

On Jan. 24, Ruben Fernandez, 17, Garden City, was wanted for escaping from a Johnson County juvenile correctional facility and was arrested after arriving in Garden City on a commercial bus.

The investigation remains active, and Garden City police Chief James Hawkins said that additional arrests and charges are a possibility.

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