Monterey County

UPDATE: Four of nine Salinas men arraigned on 73 counts of violent crime

Group known to hunt rival gang members in early morning hours

New details on major gang member indictment

SALINAS, Calif. - UPDATE 11/18/2015 6:00 PM: The U.S. Attorney's Office said four of the nine suspected Salinas gang members arrested in a major indictment appeared in federal court Wednesday afternoon.

Victor Skates, 26, Antonio Cruz, 28, and Anthony Lek, 28 entered not guilty pleas. Robert Loera, 35 did not enter a plea. The judge scheduled another hearing for Feb. 3 at the U.S. District Court in San Jose.

The other five suspects have not appeared in court yet.

"It literally encompassed thousands of hours of work over the last five years to bring this to the stage that we're in right now," said Terry Gerhardstein, deputy chief with the Salinas Police Department, referring to what it took solve this investigation.

UPDATE 11/18/2015 3:00 PM: The Salinas Police Department released the mugs of all nine men arrested in a major indictment of suspected Salinas gang members.

Police said these men contributed to 41% of the homicides in 2009.

ORIGINAL STORY: Nine men are behind bars after their indictment on 73 counts of violent crime including murder, attempted murder, armed bank robbery and racketeering, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Salinas Police said these men contributed to the majority of the shootings in the city in 2009. That year, Salinas reached a record number of 29 homicides. Salinas surpassed that record in October 2015, currently totaling 34 homicides.

The indictment said one of the homicides involved an incident at Alisal High School where a 15-year-old was killed on the athletic field. Charges also include armed bank robberies in Salinas, Watsonville and San Jose and an armed robbery at a jewelry story in Gilroy.

Those men arrested include: Daniel Chavez, 33, Victor Skates, 26, Eduardo Lebron, 36, Eder Torres, 29, Julian Ruiz, 26, Antonio Cruz, 28, Terrell Golden, 24, Anthony Lek, 28. They are allegedly Salinas-based Norteño gang members and a ninth defendant, Robert Loera, 35, is allegedly an associate of the gang.

The indictment states all nine men are accused of 12 murders, seven attempted murders and seven bank robberies during a two year time period. Investigators said these men hunted for rival gang members. Salinas Police said they would stalk their victims in the early morning hours and the investigation into their crimes was dubbed "Operation Daybreak."

All nine men are being held in various jurisdictions and are scheduled to be in U.S. Federal Court in San Jose on Wednesday, November 18.


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