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11 alleged Central Coast gang members arrested on drug trafficking charges

Eleven members and associates of two Central Coast gangs were arrested Tuesday after being charged in federal indictments with drug trafficking, said U.S Atty. André Birotte Jr.

FBI special agents and local police detectives penetrated the drug trafficking network of a Lompoc-based subset of the Six Deuce Brims Bloods and the Northwest (Santa Maria) street gang, the largest Latino gang on the Central Coast, which is affiliated with the Mexican Mafia prison gang, federal officials said.

The gangs are believed responsible for a significant amount of the region's narcotics dealings and firearms sales, as well as various violent crimes in the coastal communities.

Working undercover, investigators orchestrated controlled purchases of narcotics and weapons from the suspects.

"With this morning's arrests, we have collectively delivered a powerful message to the criminal street gangs and drug dealers who think they can operate in this region," Birotte said. "We will use every tool at our disposal to disrupt this criminal activity so that we can ensure the safety of the people who live and work in our neighborhoods."

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles recently returned five indictments that charged a total of 10 defendants with conspiracy and distributing methamphetamine. Nine defendants named in the indictments were arrested Tuesday during dawn raids. One federal suspect remained at large.

Two others were arrested Tuesday morning on state violations in connection with the investigation, and  two other state defendants were already in custody. They are expected to be prosecuted by the Santa Barbara County district attorney’s office.

The nine federal defendants arrested for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and/or distribution of methamphetamine are: Freddie Sutton, 51, of Oceano; Mike Shepherd, 50, of Santa Maria; Christopher DeLong, 50, of Arroyo Grande; Keshon Cole, 34, of Santa Maria; Randy Fuston, 29, of Santa Maria; Melvin Braddock, 40, of Santa Maria; Eduardo Sanchez, 27, of Santa Maria; Jesus Buenrostro, 23, of Santa Maria; and Sergio Godinez, 30, of Santa Maria.

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-- Richard Winton

 
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