BOISE -- Twenty members or associates of the Sureno Mob Trece gang were indicted Wednesday in a move federal authorities expect will leave the group decimated.
The charges - which range from drug trafficking to weapons charges to gang recruitment - were announced by U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Idaho Bart Davis Thursday morning.
The indictments came as the culmination of a months-long investigation by the Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crime Task Force into Sureno Mob Trece, a smaller subset of the Sureno gang that operates in Ada and Canyon counties.
"I think that this will effectively dismantle the Sureno Mob Trece and remove it from our community," FBI Agent Doug Hart said.
Five of the defendants - 22-year-old Sebastian Levasseur of Nampa, 20-year-old Isaac Carreno of Nampa, 18-year-old Christian Barker of Meridian, 41-year-old Abel Arturo Negrete of Nampa, and 21- year-old Thomas Pinto of Meridian - are facing federal charges.
The other 15 were indicted on state charges in Canyon County. They are Javier Juan Garcia,
William Jordan, Joeseph Hovater, Vanessa Rodriguez, Dezirae Hicks, Adolfo Ramirez, Danny Mascorro, Kaylee Sayasounthone, Maria Garcia, Moises Ortiz, Juan Rangel, Joshua Rangel, Jailene Gonzalez, Melissa Garcia and Amanda Paine.
Canyon County Prosecutor Bryan Taylor said law enforcement collaboration has been devastatingly effective in curbing the gang violence that plagued the Valley in the mid-2000s.
"We have and will continue to have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to gangs in this valley and in Canyon County because we've been down this road before and its a place we don't want to return," he said. "The community has spoken, that we don't want to live with the dangerous lifestyles, the threat and harm to individuals or the public interest as we did before."
Taylor said that authorities grappled with hundreds of drive-by shootings around 2005 to 2007. By today, that number has fallen to nearly zero in Canyon County he said, a drop he credited to the creation of the Metro Task Force and the increased cooperation between police agencies.
Caldwell Police Chief Frank Wyant agreed, calling his agency's participation in the task force a "no-brainer."
"We had over a hundred drive-by shootings in Caldwell from July to October of 2004," he recalled. "In 2016 we had one. We located the person and arrested him. That's the difference that these partnerships make."
Levasseur, Barker, Negrete, Hicks, Hovater, Javier Juan Garcia and Maria Garcia are all in custody now, while warrants have been issued for the other suspects. Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to contact law enforcement.
Authorities said they hoped the indictments act as a message to other gang members currently operating or hoping to set up shop in Ada or Canyon County: It's not worth it.
"We will be relentless in our pursuit of gang members and those who are affiliated with gangs. They have no place in our community, and we will do everything in our power to remove them from our streets and our neighborhoods," Taylor said. "This goes for everyone, from the gang leadership to the low level recruiters."
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