BMW Driving Burglars

Makes perfect sense in the Silicon Valley. A Dodge would look suspicious

Top: Ruben Ibarra-Nava, Emerson Chaves, Daniel Flores-CastenedaMiddle: Jaime Magana, Francisco Ledesma Aquilar, Gilberto CruzBottom: Raul Cruz Jr., Miguel

Top: Ruben Ibarra-Nava, Emerson Chaves, Daniel Flores-Casteneda
Middle: Jaime Magana, Francisco Ledesma Aquilar, Gilberto Cruz
Bottom: Raul Cruz Jr., Miguel Chipres-Magallon, Gustavo Ayala Garcia Jr.

By: Robert Salonga/San Jose Mercury News

Authorities say they have arrested more than half a dozen members of a gang-based burglary crew investigators linked to more than 200 cases centered in San Jose and spanning a number of Bay Area cities.

The gang crew, reportedly based out of East Palo Alto, was the subject of “Operation Cruz Control,” a yearlong investigation spearheaded by the San Jose Police Department and came to involve 10 other area police agencies. Police are crediting the crackdown on the burglary crew with a 50 percent drop in property crimes in the city’s Evergreen area.

“When you have an active burglary crew committing four or five burglaries a day, to get them off the street makes a major impact,” said Lt. Paul Messier, commander of the SJPD financial-crimes unit.

Wednesday, a multiagency law-enforcement team involving dozens of officers served search warrants at seven locations in East Palo Alto and one in Newark and arrested seven men, and are still looking to arrest two more, according to San Jose police. At least four others are being sought in connection with the operation but arrest warrants have not been issued for them.

The crew is tied to more than 200 burglaries dating back to 2015, primarily in San Jose but also in Milpitas, Redwood City, East Palo Alto, Daly City, Newark and other unspecified locations on the Peninsula.

According to San Jose police, the suspects drove vehicles such as Porsches, BMW’s and Mercedes-Benzes, and stole firearms, cash, jewelry and electronics during the alleged crimes, which occurred mostly in Evergreen.

“We noticed an uptick in burglaries, and we saw a pattern of high-end cars being used in a lot of them,” Messier said.

Residents’ home-security cameras were crucial in helping detectives identify the vehicles and by extension the suspects.

“There’s quite a bit of surveillance video now. (Cameras) are cheaper, more readily available, and the quality is better and better, so we were able to make a lot of these cases,” Messier said.

When the search warrants were served, authorities seized a “large amount” of cash, stolen property, burglary tools, ski masks, and at least one firearm.

Five of the seven suspects in custody, men between the ages of 19 and 25, were booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail on suspicion of multiple burglary counts along with recommended gang enhancements. All are East Palo Alto residents: Ruben Ibarra-Nava, 22; Emerson Chavez, 19; Francisco “Frankie” Ledesma Aquilar, 25; Gilberto Cruz, 19; and Raul Cruz Jr., 20.

The “Cruz Control” moniker for the police operation was derived by the Cruz family thought to be the masterminds behind the burglary racket, Messier said.

Two of the suspects, both from East Palo Alto, were already in jail when they were linked to the burglaries: Daniel Flores-Castaneda, 24, was already in Santa Clara County jail, and Jaime Magana, 25, was in San Mateo County jail.

Police are still seeking two more suspects: 22-year-old East Palo Alto resident Miguel Chipres-Magallon and 23-year-old Newark resident Gustavo Ayala Garcia Jr.

Messier said while there is still more work to do, Wednesday’s bust was a boon for the department’s bare-bones burglary unit, which currently consists of Sgt. Mike Montonye and Detective Ashley Weger.

“We have one burglary detective for a population of over a million people, but Detective Weger and Sgt. Montonye are both very tenacious investigators,” Messier said. “They were instrumental in putting this case together.”

In all, 150 officers from 11 area police agencies participated in the raids: Police from San Jose, Milpitas, East Palo Alto, Redwood City, Daly City, Union City, and Newark; the Santa Clara County and San Mateo County sheriff’s offices; the San Mateo North County Regional SWAT Team; and the U.S. Postal Inspector.

Published by CityFella

Big city fella, Born and Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lived in New York (a part time New Yorker) for three years . I have lived in the Sacramento area since 1993. When I first moved here, I hated it. Initially found the city too conservative for my tastes. A great place to raise children however too few options for adults . The city has grown up, there is much to do here. The city suffers from low self esteem in my opinion, locals have few positive words to say about their hometown. visitors and transplants are amazed at what they find here. From, the grand old homes in Alkali Flats, and the huge trees in midtown, there are many surprises in Sacramento. Theater is alive is this area . And finally ,there is a nightlife... In.downtown midtown, for the young and not so young. My Criticism is with local government. There is a shortage of visionaries in city hall. Sacramento has long relied on the state, feds and real estate for revenue. Like many cities in America,Downtown Sacramento was the hub of activity in the area. as the population moved to the suburbs and retail followed. The city has spent millions to revive downtown. Today less than ten thousand people live downtown. No one at city hall could connect the dots. Population-Retail. Business says Sacramento is challenging and many corporations have chosen to set up operations outside the cities limits. There is vision in the burbs. Sacramento has bones, there are many good pieces here, leaders seem unable or unwilling to put those pieces together into. Rant aside, I love it here. From the trees to the rivers. But its the people here that move me. Sacramento is one of the most integrated cities in America. I find I'm welcome everywhere. The spices work in this city of nearly 500,000 and for the most part these spices blend well together. From Ukrainians to Hispanics and a sizable gay community, all the spices seem to work well here. I frequently travel and occasionally I will venture into a city with huge racial borders, where its unsafe to visit after certain hours. I haven't found it here. I cant imagine living in a community where there is one hue or one spice. I love the big trees, Temple Coffee House, the Alhambra Safeway, Zelda's Pizza, Bicyclist in Midtown, The Mother Lode Saloon, Crest Theater, and the Rivers. I could go on and I might. Sacramento is home.

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