San Jose police arrest gang members in 'Operation Grinch' sweep

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- At least 25 suspected members of the Norteno street gang now face charges in dozens of burglaries after being arrested in a sweep called Operation Grinch.

Police believe the San Jose-based gangs broke into homes across three Bay Area counties over the past three years.

The burglaries took place in San Jose, Hillsborough and Union City.

Berryessa District is just one of several neighborhoods that have seen a rash of home burglaries. Some of the suspects have been caught on home surveillance video.

Behind the scenes, police zeroed in on an organized gang of 29 adults who are all believed to be members of the Norteno street gang.

Yoko Yamasaki, 70, had all her jewelry stolen earlier this year and said she was glad police found them.

The district attorney's office said the gang members ranging from ages 19 to 25 would take jewelry to the Tropicana Shopping Center to have the gold melted and used the money to buy cars and fancy clothes. But, officials said they would hold onto cash and guns they stole.

Officials said juveniles were recruited to break into the homes. "Residential burglary is a strike if you commit it as an adult. It's not a strike if you commit it as a juvenile. So, oftentimes
you would use juveniles to complete the crime, so that the juveniles would face less consequences," Santa Clara Deputy District Attorney Sandip Patel said.

Officials said 16 suspects appeared in court Tuesday morning after the county grand jury indicted them. Nine are being held in other counties and four are still at large.

The suspects remain in jail with bail set for $1.5 million for most of them.

San Jose police are credited with breaking the case. "I'm very surprised because I know with the downsizing of the police department and you know the burglary not being the primary thing that they should work on, it's good to know that they're actually thinking about it," Berryessa District resident Steven Tran said.
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