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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Contact: Los Angeles Field Division

ATF Agent Honored as Member of NCRGTF Investigation

Targeting DTO Resulted in 62 Indicted

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego County Sheriff’s Office honored the North County Regional Gang Task Force (NCRGTF) today with the Meritorious Unit Citation for their combined efforts on the sting authorities called “Operation No Worries.”

NCRGTF is a Sheriff's Department led task force made up of individuals from ATF, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Highway Patrol, Carlsbad Police Department, District Attorney’s Office of San Diego County, Escondido Police Department, Oceanside Police Department, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, United States Attorney’s Office, and the United States Marshal’s Service.

As part of the task force, members from all participating agencies are being honored to include ATF Special Agent Austin Sailor. His work led investigators in the seizure of 25 firearms, primarily recovered off criminal street gang members and their associates.

Sailor spearheaded various aspects of the investigation. He was instrumental in extensive surveillance operations leading to the identification of gang members, their vehicles, and the locations where narcotics and firearms transactions took place.

The NCRGTF conducted a large-scale takedown operation in March 2017, resulting in 55 federal arrest warrants being executed. In addition, 20 federal search warrants were executed in San Diego County, California and Arizona. The operation resulted in 62 federal indictments, which included violations of federal firearms and narcotics laws. Throughout the investigation, NCRGTF seized heroin, methamphetamine and dozens of firearms, including AR-15’s, semi-automatic pistols and revolvers. Several neighborhoods in North County were affected during the investigation, including one local high school.

Charged federally in the investigation were defendants with crimes ranging from money laundering, vehicle thefts, burglaries, robberies, assaults, and heroin, methamphetamine and firearms trafficking. The defendants, including prominent drug dealers and documented gang members, were responsible for supplying a substantial portion of the heroin and methamphetamine distributed in North County, California.

This campaign was aimed at the Villalvalzo Drug Trafficking Organization, which utilized Vista Home Boys gang members and associates to distribute narcotics in North County. The charging documents describe a trafficking organization allegedly led by a previously deported Mexico-based woman who was running her own Sinaloa Cartel-linked organization from Tijuana. The Villalvazo network distributed heroin in North County and supplied pound quantities of heroin to a prolific distribution ring in Kingman, Arizona.

Many of the defendants are documented members or associates of violent North County street gangs, including the Vista Home Boys, Varrio Fallbrook Locos, Varrio Carlsbad Locos, Encinitas Tortilla Flats, Varrio San Marcos and Escondido Viejo Diablos.

The Meritorious Unit Citation is awarded to an organizational unit for outstanding service by its members functioning as a team in pursuit of a worthwhile objective. NCRGTF targets documented gangs, gang members and their associates, who participate in violent criminal activity such as murder, attempted murder, armed robberies, car-jacking, extortion, kidnapping, assault with deadly weapons, firearms violations, and other major crimes such as theft and narcotics trafficking that benefit the gang through acquisition of wealth and power. The emphasis of the task force’s investigative efforts are on the identification, arrest, prosecution, and deportation of members of violent gangs using mandatory sentencing laws whenever possible.

ATF oftentimes collaborates with its local law enforcement task forces bringing federal jurisdiction and expertise on firearms, arson and explosives. To learn more about ATF, its investigations, and programs follow us on Twitter @ATFHQ, Facebook @HQATF and Instagram @ATFHQ

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Field Division: Los Angeles Field Division