News and Press Releases


February 9, 2011

Task Force Operation Dubbed ‘Supernova’ Targets Colonia Chiques Gang

OXNARD, California – A task force made up of special agents with the FBI and officers with the Oxnard Police Department, supported by other federal and local agencies, today arrested 22 people linked to the Colonia Chiques street gang on federal and state narcotics charges.

This morning’s arrests are the result of a eight-month investigation into the Ventura County’s largest street gang, which was formed in the 1970s and has more than 1,000 documented members.

The investigation focused on the drug trafficking activities of gang members. Over the past few weeks, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles returned nine indictments that charge a total of 12 defendants with distributing methamphetamine, heroin and crack cocaine. Eight of the defendants named in the federal indictments were arrested this morning and two were previously taken into custody. Two of the defendants named in the federal indictments are fugitives.

In addition to the federal defendants, 14 people were arrested this morning on state charges and are expected to be prosecuted by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.

"Gang activity is not limited to major cities such as Los Angeles, and today’s crackdown on what is believed to be the largest street gang in Ventura County demonstrates that we will target gang members and associates wherever they conduct their criminal activities,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr.

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Steve Martinez commented: “The Colonia Chiques has been a scourge to the law-abiding residents in the city of Oxnard for decades. Many upper-level members of this gang now face serious felony charges based on the FBI’s successful collaboration with the Oxnard Police Department, as well as the support of many law enforcement agencies at the federal and local level.”

Oxnard Police Chief Jeri Williams stated: “Today, we’ve seen what can be accomplished when agencies collaborate and allocate resources to address an issue – in this case, the malicious activities of gang members in the city of Oxnard. This investigation had a direct impact on the reduction of violent crime in our community. By targeting a small percentage of offenders that are responsible for a large number of offenses, we have the ability to solve crimes and prevent new ones before they are committed.”

The 12 defendants, all but one of whom lives in Oxnard, are named in nine indictments. The defendants are:

Richard Bravo, 42, who is accused of distributing over 10 grams of methamphetamine (he is currently a fugitive being sought by authorities);

Mario Castellon, 37, who is accused of distributing 71 grams of heroin (he was previously taken into state custody);

Pablo Reynosa, 35, who is named in the same indictment as Castellon;

Jose Rodriguez Espinoza, 27, who is charged in three methamphetamine transactions – two involving approximately one ounce and one involving nearly a quarter pound of the drug;

Jaime Garcia, 30, who is charged in two methamphetamine transactions, both involving approximately one ounce of the drug (he is currently a fugitive being sought by authorities);

Moises Limon, 29, who is accused of distributing approximately 39 grams of methamphetamine;

Luis Alberto Rodriguez, 28, of Ventura, who is accused of selling approximately three ounces of methamphetamine near playgrounds in Ventura;

Jose Soto-Martinez, 29, who is accused of distributing nearly three ounces of crack cocaine;

Jerardo Villa, 49, of Oxnard, who is accused in two transactions involving a total of approximately a quarter pound of heroin, both of which took place in his residence near an elementary school;

Genero Garcia Melena, 29, who was named in the same indictment as Villa (he was previously taken into state custody);

Rene Che Blanco, 40, of Oxnard, who is accused of selling approximately one ounce of methamphetamine near the Colonia Village public house project; and

Freddie Clemente Avalos Jr., 31, who is named in the same indictment as Blanco.

The eight defendants named in the grand jury indictments who were arrested this morning are expected to be arraigned on the charges this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

Most of the defendants named in the grand jury indictments face mandatory minimum sentences of at least five years and statutory maximum sentences of 40 years in federal prison if they are convicted. Two defendants face potential life sentences because of prior convictions.

Previously in this investigation, a Colonia Chiques gang member pleaded guilty to a federal charge of distributing methamphetamine. Jose Armando Ayala-Alvarado, 31, of Oxnard, pleaded guilty in November, specifically admitting that he was involved in three methamphetamine transactions – one involving about three ounces, one involving approximately one pound, and a third involving more than two pounds of the drug. Ayala-Alvarado is expected to receive a 10-year prison term when he is sentenced in federal court in Los Angeles on February 28.

This case is part of “Operation Peaceworks,” a collaboration between the United States Department of Justice; the Oxnard Police Department; the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office; the California Governor’s Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention Office; and the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College in New York City.

The investigation was led the by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Oxnard Police Department. The following agencies provided support during the investigation and this morning’s takedown: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department; the Ventura Police Department; the Simi Valley Police Department; the Santa Barbara Police Department; the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department; the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; the Ventura County Probation Agency; and FBI Field Offices in San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Phoenix.


Release No. 11-018

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