54 arrested in East Bay gang crackdown

June 17, 2008 6:42:46 PM PDT
Oakland Police claim they've broken up a notorious street gang. The gang calls themselves "The Acorn Gang" and they've preyed on East Bay neighborhood's for years. On Tuesday, in a series of early morning raids, police and FBI agents swooped down on 30 homes in a dozen East Bay cities.

A series of early morning raids in West Oakland and elsewhere, called "Operation Nutcracker," designed to break up the notorious Acorn street gang.

"They don't have any respect for life. For themselves, for their neighborhood, to the point where they'll turn on each other for the drop of a dime," said Officer Roland Holmgren with the Oakland Police Department.

More than 100 officers from Oakland and other agencies, including the FBI, raided some 34 sites in the East Bay.

They arrested 34 suspected gang members on a variety of charges, including drugs, assault, robbery, and murder.

Those arrested include The Acorn Gang's suspected ringleader, Mark Anthony Candler, picked up at a house in Castro Valley.

"He came to the Acorn area at roughly 14 years of age and basically began flexing his power in regards to drug dealing," said Lieutenant Ersie Joyner with the Oakland Police.

"Operation Nutcracker" is the culmination of a three month investigation that has resulted in the seizure of 40 firearms, narcotics and the arrest of 54 suspects. Some of those arrests included those believed involved in the Milano and Red Boy Pizza Restaurant robberies.

Olis Simmons is executive director of Youth Uprising, an Oakland anti-gang organization. She believes making arrests alone, won't solve the larger problem.

"It's one part of a larger strategy, the problem is when it's the primary strategy, we see the level of failure that we're seeing in Oakland," said Simmons.

Youth Uprising tries to give young people positive options, like a dance contest, to keep them from turning to gangs in the first place.

"Our strategy is they go to jail. We're going to be relentless in our pursuit of them in order to take them off the streets of Oakland, to give the people who live here and opportunity to live and thrive," said Chief Wayne Tucker of the Oakland Police Department.

Oakland Police say those who do choose the gang lifestyle can look forward to more arrests.


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