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Arrests, drug seizures follow joint investigation by West Texas Anti-Gang Center

West Texas Anti-Gang Center, "Operation Kanpol" consisted of a joint effort between the El Paso FBI Safe Streets Gang Task Force Squad, El Paso FBI SWAT, HSI Community Shield Taskforce, DEA, Texas Department of Public Safety, Socorro Police Department, El Paso County sheriffs assigned to the Safe Streets Gang Task Force, Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo police, and the El Paso Police Department Gang Unit.

Agencies from the West Texas Anti-Gang Center have completed a six-month investigation culminating in the arrest of nine individuals and the seizure of 47.1 grams of heroin, 2.7 grams of methamphetamines and 4.3 grams of marijuana.

The investigation was given the name Operation Kanpol and consisted of a joint effort between the El Paso FBI Safe Streets Gang Task Force Squad, El Paso FBI SWAT, HSI Community Shield Taskforce, DEA, Texas Department of Public Safety, Socorro Police Department, El Paso County sheriffs assigned to the Safe Streets Gang Task Force, Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo police, and the El Paso Police Department Gang Unit.

This operation was the first joint conspiracy gang initiative and focused on the Surenos criminal street gang, whose members had been identified in the sale and distribution of heroin and methamphetamines in El Paso’s Lower Valley and the city of Socorro, according to the press release.

Chief of Police Eddie Smith stated the Suernos have been an issue in his jurisdiction for sometime. Also, the gang has contributed to growing drug use in the area according to Smith.

“Methamphetamines has probably grown more than coke and heroin. So we do have those problems,” Smith said.

“And I appreciate the fact that all of these members stepped in place to help us attack this kind of problem.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety’s 2018 Gang Report classifies the Suernos as a Tier 2 level gang.

The report classifies gangs into three tiers. Tier 1 poses the greatest risk to a community. For example, Barrio Aztec is classifies as Tier 1 gang in El Paso.

Sergeant Patrick Natividad of the El Paso Police said the Suernos have had a foothold in the El Paso area.

“Based on the number of crime statistic, the number of cases that come in and the level of violence and, by all of the agencies working here, the drugs that are associated in the community with the Suernos, they are one of the more prevalent gangs here,” Natividad said.

Below is the full press conference:

Search warrants were executed Jan. 14 and 15 in three locations that resulted in the seizures, according to the press release.

The investigation resulted in the arrests of the following individuals:

Arturo Delgado, 50, of Socorro, Texas

Norma Delgado, 53, of Socorro, Texas

Ruben Rodriguez, 62, of Socorro, Texas

Jose Ortega, 44, of Socorro, Texas

Stephanie Puga, 32, of El Paso, Texas

Jesus Torres, 18, of El Paso, Texas

Maribel Hernandez, 23, of Socorro, Texas

Aaron Calderon, 23, of El Paso, Texas

Ricardo Herrera, 40, of El Paso, Texas

El Paso Police Department spokesperson Darrel Petry said this won’t be the last operation conducted by the TAG Center.

“Increasing their cooperativeness with everybody we will see more cases like this,” Petry said.

Petry also added it’s unclear if the seized drugs were brought from Mexico to El Paso to be sold or if they were manufactured here in the El Paso area.

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