“Socalj” for Borderland Beat

Following a multi-agency investigation in Fresno County that focused on crimes of violence, drug sales, and illegal firearms possession, 10 federal defendants were arrested on Thursday for crimes including murder in aid of racketeering, sales of illegal narcotics, illegal sale and distribution of firearms, and witness and victim intimidation.

In July 2021, law enforcement agencies in Fresno County, the DEA, FBI, and California Department of Corrections joined together to investigate the ongoing criminal activities committed by gang members for the benefit of the enterprise formed by the coordination of the Nuestra Familia prison gang and the Norteño criminal street gang.

On May 25, 2023, nearly 550 federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel executed 54 search warrants in Parlier, Reedley, Del Rey, Dinuba, and Clovis. This marked the culmination of a 100-day undercover operation focused on Norteño gang members committing various crimes. According to the sheriff’s office, 34 people were arrested, and narcotics were taken off the streets, including 7 pounds of methamphetamine, 26 ounces of fentanyl, and 15 ounces of cocaine.

Operation Broken Bonds was launched in February in response to a surge in violence in recent years, primarily in the city of Parlier. One of the more notable cases was a murder, which occurred due to mistaken identity.

52-year-old Silvano Mendoza of Parlier died on Sunday, June 13th, 2021. Mendoza was a field worker on his way to his job with other co-workers. He was in a car, pulling up to a home on the 13000 block of 9th Street in Parlier when he was shot. During the operation, 26-year-old Francisco Munoz of Parlier was arrested for killing Mendoza.

Detectives believe some of the people arrested are responsible for other unsolved murders in Parlier. They are working with prosecutors to finalize these investigations and are confident charges will be filed against the suspects in the coming weeks.

Defedents’ Charges

Victor Javier Zermeno, 34, of Clovis, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine;

Matthew Pete Mendez, 32, of Reedley, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, distribution of fentanyl, and being a felon in possession of a firearm;

Miguel Angel Barragan, 27, of Parlier, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and attempted murder in aid of racketeering, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence (attempted murder in aid of racketeering), being a felon in possession of a firearm, and attempted bribery;

Joey Noel Magadan, 20, of Cutler, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and attempted murder in aid of racketeering, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence (attempted murder in aid of racketeering), interference with commerce by robbery, and using, carrying, or brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and aiding and abetting;

Jonathan Maldonado, 33, of Parlier, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and attempted murder in aid of racketeering, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence (attempted murder in aid of racketeering), and being a felon in possession of ammunition;

Ezequiel Maximino Guzman, 18, of Del Rey, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and attempted murder in aid of racketeering, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence (attempted murder in aid of racketeering);

Victor Diaz-Aguilar, 30, of Fresno, is charged with being a felon in possession of ammunition;

Francisco Diaz-Salinas, 40, of Parlier, is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm;

Eduardo Amezcua, 32, of Reedley, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine;

Michael Neri, 33, of Reedley, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine;

Alejandro Hawkins, 24, of Reedley, is charged with the distribution of cocaine;

Francisco Ferman, 28, of Delano, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine;

Ivan Hernandez, 25, of Parlier, is charged with interference with commerce by robbery, and using, carrying, or brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and aiding and abetting.

Police raid taking place in Parlier, California

This case is the product of an investigation by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the DEA, the Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC), the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, the California Department of Justice, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Assistant U.S. Attorney Antonio Pataca is prosecuting the case.