DA points north, calls on lawmakers to deliver justice to Operation Trailblazer suspects

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The Visalia community has waited months to learn the identities of those believed to be responsible for the shooting deaths of 19-year-old Jose Hernandez-Peña, 18-year-old Isaiah Rule, and 19-year-old Blake Medeiros in May 2020.

On Thursday, they got their answer and more.

The months-long investigation resulted in more than two dozen arrests, including the Visalia homicide suspects, and the seizure of weapons and drugs.

Here is a breakdown of law enforcement efforts.

Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward and other authorities announced on Thursday, January 13, 2022 the arrest of dozens of members of the criminal Sureño street gang for their involvement in the 2020 murders of three teenagers at Golden High School. West of Visalia. Operation Trailblazer also uncovered a drug and firearms trafficking ring.

Homicide suspects

  • Mark Aceves, 20: murder (three counts), special allegation that he was armed with a .40 caliber firearm

  • Cesar Lopez, 19: murder (three counts), special allegation that he was armed with a .40 caliber firearm

  • Abraham Molina, 20: murder (three counts), special allegation that he intentionally discharged a firearm, causing serious bodily injury and death.

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The men could face the death penalty or life without parole, District Attorney Tim Ward said. However, with fluctuating sentencing laws, it is unclear what the defendants will face if convicted of the fatal shooting.

“Justice is complicated in California right now,” Ward said. “…What do we say to these families in the coming months and to families located like them across the state.”

Ward pointed north.

“Let these families remind lawmakers in Sacramento that decisions made on Capitol Hill have real consequences and are sparking impossible conversations with families who have been impacted by the most horrific crimes imaginable,” Ward said. “Victims deserve truth in sentencing and in California that doesn’t exist, and we need to stop pretending it does.”

Suspects and accused of Operation Trailblazer

In addition to the homicide suspects, Tulare County prosecutors filed a separate complaint against four people arrested Thursday. It is believed that these suspects helped the three Visalia homicide suspects get rid of the evidence.

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Detectives also believe that members and associates of the local Sureño gang were importing weapons from Texas and paying for the weapons with methamphetamine and cocaine from drug trafficking organizations in Mexico.

  • Jesus Angulo

  • Brandon Aragon

  • Laura Araiza (charged as an accessory after the fact, owner or operator of a chop shop)

  • Daniel Dominguez

  • Jonathan Gallegos

  • Emmanuel Lopez

  • Bryan Loza (accused of accessory after the fact, owner or operator of a chop shop)

  • Alexandre Martinez

  • Andres Perez

  • Jesus Ramirez (accused of accessory after the fact, owner or operator of a chop shop)

  • pedro ramos

  • Erik Sandoval

  • Ethan Schelling (accused of complicity after the fact)

  • malachai serrano

  • Raul Tapia

  • Bryan Zepeda

Three minors were also arrested by Visalia detectives during the operation. Additional arrests are expected to be made by law enforcement in Oregon and Texas as part of this investigation.

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More arrests and charges could follow.

What was seized and when?

  • September 25: Glock 27

  • October 12: Eight Guns

  • October 15: Five Guns

  • October 18: 29.3 grams of methamphetamine

  • October 23: Glock 43

  • October 24: Taurus G2C

  • October 26: 20 pounds of cocaine, a gun

  • November 3: A gun

  • November 9: Three P80 Ghost Pistols

  • November 10: Three guns, 5 pounds of marijuana, 12 magazines

  • November 10: four firearms, money, concentrated cannabis, ammunition, vapers, wax

  • November 13: Glock semi-automatic

  • November 30: Ruger semi-auto

  • December 17: Semi-automatic handgun

After a four-month investigation, participating law enforcement said they prevented at least five violent crimes and seized 56 firearms belonging to members of the Sureño gang.

In total, detectives wrote 90 search warrants, conducted 60 interviews, searched more than 220 digital accounts and followed numerous anonymous tips.

A $50,000 reward is still available for material witnesses who can provide investigators and prosecutors with first-hand knowledge of the triple homicide. Anyone with information is asked to call the Visalia Police Department Violent Crimes Unit at 713-4234.

This article originally appeared on Visalia Times-Delta: Here’s who was arrested and what was seized in Operation Trailblazer

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