Search and arrests warrants were served early Wednesday morning, and six people were arrested as part of "Operation Supernova."
This is the third phase of the investigation targeting local gangs working with the Mexican Mafia. Authorities have charged a total of 17 accused gang members of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. Eight of them are already behind bars on unrelated charges, one is believed to be in Mexico, and authorities are still looking for two people named in the criminal complaint.
Authorities say the year-long investigation will put a dent in the sale of narcotics in Ventura County.
"This case targeted the so-called 'shot-callers' of the organization, the local Ventura and Oxnard street gangs to include Lemonwood, Sur Town and the Ventura Avenue Gangsters, whose members have ties to the Mexican Mafia, which again control the drug trade among Hispanic street gangs," said Tim Delaney, special agent in charge of the FBI's Criminal Division at the Los Angeles Field Office.
The undercover sting outlined a series of narcotics transactions that led to the seizure of more than two pounds of methamphetamine and qualities of heroin that were being sold on the streets of Ventura County.
The six arrested Wednesday include: Daniel Armendariz, 38; Pedro Arrieta, 42; Philip Guerra, 28; David Leal, 44; Armando Molina, 30; and Frank Ruiz, 32.
Already in custody are: David Acosta, 33; Robert De La Cerda, 35; Daniel Gonzales, 40; Ruben Hernandez, 20; Alejandro Herrera, 38; and Dillon Mansell, 21.
Defendant Martin Madrigal-Cazares, 38, is believed to be in Mexico. Investigators say Madrigal-Cazares is the one controlling the drug-trafficking organization out of Mexico.
The two remaining defendants are fugitives: Lina Fuentes, 35; and Librado Navarrette, 27.
If convicted, the 17 defendants face a minimum of 10 years in federal prison and statutory maximum sentences of life in prison. The six defendants who were arrested on Wednesday are slated to make their first appearance in federal court sometime Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Operation Supernova was conducted jointly by the Ventura Police Department, the Oxnard Police Department and the FBI.
Oxnard Police Chief Jeri Williams released a statement Tuesday night, addressing the increased crime in Oxnard. This includes 12 violent gang crimes since the beginning of October. Nine were felony assaults, two were attempted homicides and one was a murder.
Williams said her department is stretched thin and trying their best to keep up with the recent string of criminal activity in the city, including a spike in property crimes, sexual assaults and robberies. She asked for the public's assistance in reporting any suspicious activity. You can call the violent crimes hotline at (805) 982-7070 or Ventura County Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.