In an enforcement effort that stretched from San Francisco to Sacramento, police agencies have made 29 felony arrests and seized 211 firearms in what they’re calling a multi-agency operation targeting gang violence in the city and county of Sacramento, the Sacramento Police Department announced Wednesday.
The operation was triggered by an August drive-by shooting during an afternoon rap video shoot in Meadowview that left five injured and one dead. Community activists said the shooting was likely related to an online feud between Sacramento rappers and the gangs that follow them.
Sacramento police officials say two rival street gangs have been feuding in Sacramento since 2015, though they would not identify them by name Wednesday.
Those arrested face charges that include robbery, auto theft, firearms trafficking, narcotic sales and homicide. The names of the 29 people arrested were not released during Wednesday’s news conference.
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The Sacramento Police Department cited an ongoing investigation and additional suspects that are still at large as a reason for not disclosing the information. About 200 officers from 13 different departments in the region aided in the arrests.
Department spokesman Eddie Macaulay said arrests were made over the course of the last few months, with “multiple simultaneous arrests” on Dec. 14, the end of the operation’s first stage.
The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office will decide whether to prosecute any of the 29 people arrested.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office and the San Francisco Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives helped conduct the investigation.
“On this specific (case), because of the boundaries it crossed and because of the different issues that it had, it was in our mind very beneficial to collaborate with these different agencies,”said Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn. “And I think that the results speak for themselves, that we were successful.”
The operation followed an Aug. 27 drive-by shooting in Sacramento’s Meadowview neighborhood in which four people were injured and one man, 49-year-old Ernie Jessey Cadena, was killed. City leaders and community members pointed to an online battle between local rappers Mozzy, C-Bo and Lavish D as a possible cause of the violence.
The three men exchanged “diss” songs in the weeks preceding the shooting that city leaders and law enforcement believe could have encouraged fans to take action offline, the Sacramento Bee previously reported.
C-Bo, a local rapper whose given name is Shawn Thomas, was filming a video at a local park the day of the shooting. The video shoot was promoted on social media and billed as a unity event in response to an increase in violence locally.
Donald Oliver, who goes by the stage names Lavish D and CML, attended the event and was also part of the group targeted in the drive-by shooting. He was arrested on a parole violation days later.
Oliver was on parole in connection to a 2014 gang war, also possibly sparked by rival rap videos, and which led to a three-year sentence, the Sacramento Bee previously reported. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail. Online jail records do not show that he is currently incarcerated.
In addition to the crackdown, the August park shooting also prompted the Sacramento City Council to move quickly on approving a $1.5 million contract with Advance Peace, a controversial mentoring and intervention program started in Richmond. The program pays participants, mostly young men identified as those most likely to commit gun violence, to stay out of trouble and instead complete goals, like earning a high school diploma.
Advance Peace will likely start operating here next spring, said Khaalid Muttaqi, director of the city’s Gang Prevention and Intervention Task Force. The task force partners with local organizations and schools by offering grants for those who can provide services that deter youth from participating in gang activity.
Muttaqi said he has noticed an increase in gang activity locally, with social media playing a role.
“If you talk to people in the neighborhood, just the intensity in the past year or last two years, it feels like it’s definitely trending in the wrong direction,” he said.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who attended Wednesday’s event, said Sacramento needs to use a variety of approaches to combat gun and gang violence.
“Because of this collaborative effort, those weapons of destruction and many of the people who were using them are off the streets,” he said of the mass arrests. “It demonstrates that it’s not either or, it requires both strong commitment to prevention and early intervention, but also a commitment to enforcement and upholding the law.”