Press Releases

Norteño Gang Member Sentenced To More Than 36 Years In Prison

Release Date/Time: 5/3/2019 1:02 PM
Incident: Norteño Gang Member Sentenced To More Than 36 Years In Prison For Racketeering Conspiracy, Murder, And Armed Robbery
Date: Friday, 5/3/2019
Time: 1:02 PM
Location: Various

Release Authorized by: A.C. Filice
Telephone:  (831) 758-7090

 

Norteño Gang Member Sentenced To More Than 36 Years In Prison For Racketeering Conspiracy, Murder, And Armed Robbery

Salinas Police Detectives, in concert with the FBI, conducted an extensive investigation which culminated with the successful prosecution of several Norteno gang members.

The latest defendant, Antonio Cruz was sentenced today to 36½ years in prison and ordered to pay $324,915.59 in restitution for his role in a racketeering conspiracy that involved three murders, two attempted murders, one robbery affecting interstate commerce, and three armed bank robberies.

Cruz, 32, of Salinas, pleaded guilty to the charges on October 3, 2018. According to the plea agreement, Cruz admitted to being a member of the Salinas-based Norteño street gang clique known as 'Santa Rita.” Cruz also admitted to being a member of a larger racketeering enterprise known as the Salinas Norteños Enterprise (the 'Enterprise”) consisting of several violent Norteño cliques in Salinas. Cruz was a member of both groups from 2009 to 2011. Santa Rita and other Norteño cliques in Salinas committed acts of violence for the benefit of the gang, including murder, attempted murder, and robbery. Among other acts of violence, members of Santa Rita sought to attack and kill members of rival Sureño gang cliques, as well as members of other rival gangs.

The murders attempted murders, and robberies to which Cruz pleaded guilty took place between December 2009 and January 2011. On December 2, 2009, Cruz went to Lohman Street in Salinas to shoot an individual that he and his fellow Enterprise members selected as a target and believed was a rival Sureño gang member. Cruz staked out the victim's house in the early morning hours until the victim came out of his house and began warming up his car. Cruz approached and shot the victim multiple times with a .380 caliber handgun. The victim died as a result of Cruz's attack.

On July 12, 2010, Cruz went to the Northgate apartment complex in Salinas with a fellow Enterprise member to shoot individuals they believed were Sureño gang members who had recently moved into the complex. Cruz armed his fellow Enterprise member with a firearm that was used to shoot at two victims working on a car in the parking lot of the apartment complex. The gunfire struck one of the victims in the lower back. The .45 caliber pistol used in the shooting was later recovered from Cruz's backpack when Cruz was arrested in 2012.

On August 17, 2010, Cruz and a fellow Enterprise member drove around Salinas hunting for a Sureño to shoot and kill. When they spotted an individual they believed was a rival Sureño, Cruz stopped the car near the victim, and Cruz's passenger got out of the car and fired his gun at the victim multiple times. The victim died as a result of the shooting.

On November 19, 2010, Cruz and other Enterprise members learned there was a house party at a residence the Enterprise had identified as a Sureño hang out. A fellow Enterprise member conducted reconnaissance and confirmed that Sureños were having a party at the residence, and then patrolled the neighborhood in his car as a lookout for law enforcement. Cruz drove two codefendants to shoot up the party and supplied one of the shooters with a .40 caliber Glock handgun with an extended magazine. Cruz remained in his vehicle while the other two Enterprise members approached the house on foot. When they got to the driveway, one of the gunmen fired more than ten rounds, killing one victim and injuring another.

Cruz also acted as the getaway driver in several armed robberies, including the June 2, 2010, robbery of the Zales jewelry store in Gilroy; the November 23, 2010 robbery of the Bank of the West in San Jose; the December 16, 2010 robbery of the Wells Fargo Bank in Watsonville; and the January 7, 2011 robbery of the Rabobank in Watsonville. In each robbery, Enterprise members entered the establishment and brandished firearms to induce employees to turn over cash and jewelry. The Enterprise stole jewelry with a retail value of more than $800,000, and cash proceeds estimated at more than $92,000.

On October 28, 2015, a federal grand jury indicted Cruz and eight other Salinas Norteño gang members. According to the Superseding Indictment, all nine defendants committed crimes as part of Norteño gang activity. The superseding indictment alleges that, over two years, the defendants committed 12 murders, seven attempted murders, and numerous armed robberies of banks, financial institutions, and commercial establishments.

In sentencing Cruz, Judge Koh described Cruz's crimes as 'heinous.” In addition to the prison term, Judge Koh sentenced Cruz to five years of supervised release to commence after Cruz completes his prison sentence and $324,915.59 in restitution. Cruz is currently being held in the custody of the United States Marshals Service.

SPARK- Salinas Police Awareness, Responsibility and Knowledge- Life Skills Course Offered to High School Students by Salinas PD

Release Date/Time: 4/29/2019 12:08 PM
Incident:SPARK- Salinas Police Awareness, Responsibility and Knowledge- Life Skills Course Offered to High School Students by Salinas PD
Date: Monday, 4/29/2019
Time: 12:08 PM
Location:Salinas Police Department 222 Lincoln Ave.

"How to Drive Like a Cop" and Other Teen Life Skills Classes Offered by Salinas Police

Salinas, CA -- The Salinas Police Department is hosting a free, multi-week life skills program for high school students starting on Monday, May 6. Participants will learn job interview techniques, basic first aid, social media safety, how to interact with the police, and safe driving in a class called "How to Drive Like a Cop." The driver safety class will teach basic maneuvers, collision avoidance, and more, and will also include a barbecue. Each class will take place at the Salinas Police Department. To learn more or register, contact Sergeant Albert Duran at (831) 775-4201 ext. 6072 or [email protected].

A flier is available here.

Program schedule:

Monday, May 6, 6-9 pm: Self-Image and Identity (young women) with Chief Adele Fresé OR Masculinity Upgraded - Strength for a Safer Community (young men) with the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center

Monday, May 13, 6-9 pm: Job Interview Prep with Central Coast Human Resource Association

Monday, May 20, 6-9 pm: Basic First Aid and Social Media Safety

Monday, June 3, 6-9 pm: Why'd You Stop Me? Program

Saturday, June 8, 8 am - 5 pm: Driver Safety course (Please note that a driver's license or permit is not required)

Release Authorized by:Miguel Cabrera
Telephone:831 758-7289

Attempted Murder/Shooting

Release Date/Time: 4/15/2019 8:12 AM
Incident:Attempted Murder/Shooting
Date: Sunday, 4/14/2019
Time: 9:40 PM 
Location:Williams Rd at Garner Ave

Officers responded to a Shotspotter activation with several gunshots detected in the area of Williams Rd. at Garner Ave. A short time later we received a call of a victim in the 1200 block of Del Monte Ave. The victim, a 19 year old male was shot twice in the shoulder blade area.  The victim was transported to Natividad Medical Center with with what appear to be non-life threatening injuries. The victim was driving  on Williams Rd. near Garner Ave. when he heard several gun shots and realized he had been hit. He drove to a friend's nearby residence on Del Monte and they notified police.

The victim was not able to provide any suspect or suspect vehicle information. The victim's vehicle was struck several times and multiple shell casings were found at the scene. No other victims were located and no other structures  were struck by gunfire.

If anyone has any information related to this incident, you are encouraged to call Salinas PD at 831 758-7321. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can call out Tip Line at 831 775-4222

Release Authorized by:Miguel Cabrera
Telephone:831 758-7289

Assault with Deadly Weapon / Pursuit

Release Date/Time: 4/4/2019 10:00 AM
Incident: Assault with Deadly Weapon/ Pursuit
Date: Thursday, 4/4/2019
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: City of Salinas/ Hartnell Road

An officer attempted to stop a vehicle wanted in connection to a pursuit that occurred on 3-29-19. During the initial pursuit on March 29th, the driver, had evaded officers by travelling southbound, in the northbound lanes of highway 101. Last night, as officers attempted to stop the vehicle, a pursuit began and the driver fled northbound on N. Main Street at speeds approaching 90 mph. The suspect driver, Giovanni Guzman (34), a parolee, made his way onto highway 101. Guzman re-entered the city and headed south on Williams Road. After making a few U-turns, he turned back towards the pursuing officers and attempted to ram the patrol officer's vehicle. The officer was able to avoid a collision, and Guzman re-entered highway 101 at Kern traveling southbound in the northbound lanes placing lives at risk. Officers followed him by traveling in the correct southbound lanes and paralleling the suspect. Guzman exited onto Hartnell Road with Salinas PD and CHP in pursuit, and crashed at Hartnell Road. When he exited the vehicle, Guzman hid behind the front of his car, bobbed up and down from behind cover, and told officers he had a gun. Officers challenged Guzman with verbal commands and attempted to de-escalate the situation. Guzman attempted to run heading into a field, however, a Salinas officer released his police K-9 and Guzman was caught and arrested. Guzman was booked into County Jail. The pursuit lasted approximately 25 miles.

Release Authorized by:Cmdr. John C. Murray
Telephone:(831) 758-7350

Salinas PD Participates in Autism Awareness Month

Release Date/Time: 4/3/2019 12:22 PM
Incident:Salinas PD Participates in Autism Awareness Month
Date: Month of April
Time: 
Location: City of Salinas

Salinas PD Participates in Autism Awareness Month.

April is National Autism Awareness Month and the Salinas Police Department is happy to announce that we will be supporting and promoting awareness of this important cause. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that an average of 1 in 68 children in the US have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) that can cause significant social, communication and behavior challenges. These challenges often present unique safety risks which may increase the chance of encounters with police and other first responders.

The Salinas Police Department and its employees will be participating in Autism Awareness month. During the entire month of April, Salinas Police Department employees will have the option to wear Autism Awareness pins to show our support of those who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. We will also participate in briefing training to educate our officers about ASD with Behavioral Health experts. The Salinas Police Department would also like to announce that it will now have the National Autism Societies 'Meet the Police” form to assist us in providing the best service we can to those with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

We will be inviting those affected by an ASD, parents and caretakers to fill out a 'Meet the Police” informational packet and meet police personnel on Sunday April 7th from 10am-12pm at the Salinas Police Department 222 Lincoln Ave. Packets will also be kept at the front counter of the police department for those families not able to attend on this day.

Release Authorized by:Miguel Cabrera
Telephone:831 758-7289

Homicide Arrest

Release Date/Time: 4/3/2019 8:07 AM
Incident: Homicide Arrest
Date: Wednesday, 4/2/2019
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: Salinas

On February 11, 2017, at approximately 12:30 am, John Rodzach (39) was in the area of North Hebbron Avenue and Fremont Street, where he was shot and killed. At the time, officers had no leads, however, detectives of the Salinas Police Department continued the investigation. Detectives determined Kris Purcell (20) was one of the suspects. In October of 2018, Purcell was arrested and charged for the crime. Detectives continued to uncover additional evidence and determined Luis Atayde (19) was also involved. On April 2, 2019, Atayde was charged with murder and booked into Monterey County jail. This investigation is ongoing, and detectives would like to hear from anyone with information.

The Investigations Bureau is asking anyone with information on the shooting to call Detective Byron Gansen at (831) 758-7137 or email him at [email protected] . If you would like to remain anonymous, call the Salinas Police Department Anonymous Tip Line at 831-775-4222.

 

Release Authorized by: Cmdr. John C. Murray
Telephone: (831)758-7350

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Release Date/Time: 3/28/2019 11:10 AM
Incident:April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Date: Month of April
Time: 
Location:City of Salinas

Salinas Police Department Challenges Drivers to ‘silence' the Distraction

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Salinas, California – April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Salinas Police Department will be joining law enforcement agencies statewide stopping drivers who violate California's hands-free cell phone law. Salinas Police Department will have additional officers on patrol during Distracted Driving Awareness Month looking specifically for drivers on their phones. Last year, Salinas Police Department issued 663 citations to drivers texting, calling or performing another function on their phone. Distracted driving is dangerous, especially when it involves a cell phone. According to preliminary data from the California Highway Patrol (CHP), 66 people were killed and more than 6,500 injured in 2017 from distracted driving-related crashes.

'Cell phones remain one of the top distractions for drivers,” according to Salinas Police Department Traffic Sgt. Robert Hampson 'Like any bad habit, it can be hard to break, but this habit can have life-altering consequences.” A 2018 observational survey by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) on driver cell phone use found about 4.5 percent of drivers are still using their cell phone illegally, a nearly 27 percent increase from 2016. 'That text or phone call will never be worth losing a life over,” said Salinas Police Department Sgt. Hampson. 'That is why curbing distracted driving is high on our priority list.”

Under the most recent cell phone law that went into effect in 2017, drivers are only permitted to use their phone in a hands-free manner. The phones must be mounted on the dashboard, windshield or center console, and can only be touched once with the swipe or tap of a finger to activate or deactivate a function. First-time offenders face a $162 fine. If you need to make a call or text someone, pull over and park at a safe location. Struggling to stay off the phone while driving? Put your phone in a place you can't reach, like the backseat or trunk.

Funding for distracted driving enforcement operations are provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Release Authorized by Miguel Cabrera
Telephone:831 758-7289

Winning Lottery Ticket Scam

Release Date/Time: 3/27/2019 12:43 PM
Incident:Winning Lottery Ticket Scam
Date: Tuesday  3/26/2019
Time: 11:00 AM
Location:N. Sanborn Rd. at Eucalyptus Rd.

On Tuesday, March 27, 2019 at 11 am in the area of N. Sanborn Rd. and Eucalyptus Dr. the victim was approached by Hispanic female adult who claimed she had a winning lottery ticket and that she was trying to find a lawyer's office to help collect the winnings. Suspect pretends to call the lawyer as a second female suspect approached and offers to help.

Suspect # 1 says the lawyer requests a deposit in order to cash in winning lottery ticket. Suspect # 2 is eager to show interest by providing part of the deposit and share in the prize money. The victim is also offered a share of the proceeds if she helps with the deposit and is given a ride to the bank. Victim is instructed on how to respond if the bank teller questions the large withdrawal. The victim and two suspects supposedly all will ride to the lawyer's office to collect on the winning lottery ticket. Instead the victim is driven to the area of John St at Shasta St. where she is dropped off. The suspects drive away and leave victim stranded.

Victim lost several thousand dollars to the scam. Suspect #1 is described as a Hispanic female with a light complexion, 70 years old, 5'4”, thin build with short brown hair and wearing prescription eye glasses. Suspect spoke Spanish but with an accent. Suspect #2 is a Hispanic female 30 years old 5'2”, heavyset, black short hair with a dark complexion and wearing torn blue jeans. The suspect vehicle is similar to a newer model grey Chrysler PT Cruiser.

Within the last two weeks, officers also investigated a similar scam but this one involved diamonds. Be cautious if any suspicious persons such as these approach you and offer something that is too good to be true. If you have any information on this case or similar incidents, please contact Salinas PD at 831 758-7321.

Release Authorized by: Miguel Cabrera
Telephone: 831 758-7289

Burglary, Theft, Possession of a Controlled Substance

Release Date/Time: 3/25/2019 12:08 PM
Incident:Burglary, Theft, Possession of a Controlled Substance
Date: Monday, 3/25/2019
Time: 12:08 PM
Location: Several locations on S. Main St.

On Saturday March 23, Jimmy Don Butcher(20) fraudulently used a stolen  credit card at the Burger King on S. Main St. The next day on Sunday March 24, Butcher again attempted to fraudulently use a stolen credit card at Burger King, at 7-11 and CVS on S. Main St. Officers investigating these cases, located Butcher based on information gathered through the investigation and arrested him. As a result of his arrest, Butcher was found to be in possession of meth. Mariah Wright (27) who was contacted with Butcher was also found to be in possession of meth and drug paraphernalia. Butcher was booked into county jail and Wright was initially cited and released.

Later on Sunday, officers  responded to a business burglary at a doctors office in the 800 block of S. Main St.. Apparently after being cited and released,Mariah Wright tried to return two laptops to the doctor's office which had been stolen from a burglary which had not yet been reported. Employees from the doctor's office called police and Wright was arrested for the burglary. Another burglary had been reported from a residence in the 0-100 block of E. Acacia St, the investigation revealed Wright and Butcher were also responsible. Most of the stolen property found in Wright and Butcher's possession was recovered and returned to the rightful owners.

After everything was sorted out, Wright was transported to county jail and Butcher who was already in county jail was recontacted and more charges were added. Both suspects were charged with burglary, theft and possession of a controlled substance.

Release Authorized by:Miguel Cabrera
Telephone:831 758-7289

Injury Traffic Collision

Release Date/Time: 3/15/2019 3:16 PM
Incident: Injury Traffic Collision
Date: Friday, 3/15/2019
Time: 3:16 PM
Location: Natividad Rd and Rogge Rd

Release Authorized by: Cdr Maldonado
Telephone:831-758-7250

Salinas Police Officers responded to the report of a vehicle collision on Natividad Road just south of Rogge Road. An Alisal Elementary School van , occupied by two adults and 4 children, was travelling northbound on Natividad Road approaching Rogge Road when the driver noticed a Honda traveling southbound in the northbound lane. As the Honda got closer, the driver of the van swerved into the southboud lane to avoid a collision. The driver of the Honda also swerved at the last second, colliding with the van. All occupants of both were injured. The driver of the Honda had major injuries and was transported to Natividad Medical Center. Two of the children in the van, both 10,  had moderate injuries and were air lifted to Santa Clara Medical Center. Officers are conducting an investigation into the possibility of the driver of the Honda being under the influence of marijuana.

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Question of the Day

Can I drink alcohol while walking down a City street in Salinas?

No, it is illegal to drink any beverage that contains alcohol while on public property. The Salinas Municipal Code Section (21-2)  states that, "No person shall drink any beer, wine or other intoxicating beverage on any public street, sidewalk, alley, highway, plaza parkway, parking lot, airport terminal, or bus or train depot in the City...

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