ATF carries out multiple Bay Area raids

February 4, 2009 6:09:02 PM PST
Federal agents arrested more than a dozen people, following pre-dawn raids throughout the Bay Area on Wednesday, targeting a major drug trafficking syndicate.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives started the raids at 6:00 a.m., hitting Redwood City, Richmond, Oakland, San Leandro, Fremont, Daly City, San Francisco and Bakersfield. In all, 15 people were taken into custody.

Agents arrested a man from his home on Treat Street in San Francisco on Wednesday morning.

"It involved multi agencies and many, many agents from ATF, DEA and ICE and other agencies," said DEA Special Agent Gabriella Zacco.

With ATF as the lead agency, the raids started at dawn, hitting several locations in San Francisco, Oakland, Fremont a house on Oak Ridge Street in Redwood City and two homes in Richmond.

Tyrone Griffin lives across the street from one of them.

"I see a whole bunch of police just come up in a big U-Haul truck. Looked like they were SWAT, ATF agents," said Griffin.

Federal agents also made arrests at a house in Bakersfield and in Stockton.

U.S. Attorney Joe Russonielo says they seized weapons and large quantities of drugs, in particular methamphetamines, heroin and crack cocaine.

"Their source of supply was Mexico and that the money they were generating from the trafficking was being returned to Mexico," said Russoniello.

Russoniello says the 15 suspects arrested were members of two different groups of drug dealers, but both groups were part of a large trafficking syndicate.

"Many of these defendants face life terms, life in prison, federal prison with mandatory sentences, in many cases, of five years to 10 years," said Russoniello.

The U.S. attorney says the investigations began several years ago, and those arrested on Wednesday were mid-level dealers, an important part of the drug trade. They all were arraigned.