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Stockton police crackdown on street gangs leads to 34 people arrested

The investigation, dubbed, Operation Criptonyte, resulted in 34 arrests and 38 recovered firearms.

STOCKTON, Calif. — The Stockton Police Department announced on Thursday the success of "Operation Criptonyte," which aimed at disrupting criminal street gangs in the city of Stockton.

The ongoing investigation, which began in June 2020, has resulted in 55 search warrants, 38 recovered firearms, $40,000 seized, and 34 people arrests related to various criminal activities. In a post on Facebook, Stockton police said it anticipates more arrests in the future as officers continue to crackdown on gang-related crime. 

"Part of our gun violence intervention strategies is to identify those groups individuals who continue the gun violence in Stockton putting our entire community at risk," said Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones.

Law enforcement also confiscated what is suspected to be roughly one pound of cocaine, five pounds of methamphetamine, 1,300 pills of ecstasy, and "an abundance of marijuana," according to the statement.

“Families in Stockton can breathe a little easier tonight,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a statement. “This investigation and resulting arrests and seizures are an example of what happens when California law enforcement agencies work together to combat violent crime in our communities."

The Stockton Police Department's Gang Violence Suppression Unit worked with a number of agencies on Operation Criptonyte, including Sacramento, Modesto, and Manteca police departments. Increased violence in the last two years in Stockton involving gang members of these groups led to the crackdown. 

Joyce Tuhn, who heads-up San Joaquin County Victims of Violent Crimes, said these kinds of arrests give families seeking justice hope.

"When they see this they see those guns. They think they can check 'em to see if they match-up with the guns their loved ones were killed with," said Tuhn.

"We really do believe that typically a couple of these types of operations per year is what is going to make our community safer and continue to work on our efforts to combat gun violence," Jones said.

Credit: Stockton Police Department
Stockton Police Department show firearms collected during gang crackdown.

The investigation was mostly aimed at certain street gangs in Stockton: the Asian Boyz, Muddy Boyz Crips, Lil Ruthless Criminals Comstocc Crips, Loctown Crips, and Asian Crips, SPD said. The Facebook post went on to say that these groups were working together in part to benefit the Crips street gang as a whole, though investigators learned that some alliances had ended and other rivalries had begun, which proved to be valuable information.

The department highlighted some of its arrests as a result of the investigation:

  • Lawrence Carolino, 19, Amanda Arcaina, 20, Larissa Constancio-Galvez, 21, and a female juvenile were arrested for an April 2020 shooting in which one victim was shot. 
  • Anthony Comans, 30, and Kwabena Twumasi, 35, of Arizona were arrested for conspiracy and illegal possession and trafficking of firearms. During a search, police uncovered 21 guns in their car alone. 
  • Soktara Hem, 29, was arrested for illegal possession of an assault weapon, marijuana sales violations, and illegal transfer of a firearm. 
  • Eric Ypon, 35, and Mark Moeutt, 18, were arrested for illegal transfer of a firearm and gang enhancements. 
  • Kevin Chhin, 24, of Long Beach, was arrested for sales of narcotics, felon in possession of a firearm, and gang enhancements.

While many arrests involved specific gang activity, drugs and illegal firearms, Stockton police were also able to uncover criminal activity related to Unemployment Insurance fraud. Rayniko Flores, 21, Michelle Tahod, 41, and Jerry Flores, 70, were arrested for their roles in EDD fraud and the identity theft of numerous victims.

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