OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Law enforcement officers from multiple agencies in the East Bay raided a number of locations Thursday in an action targeting a violent "super group" gang alliance, whose members "waged war" on rivals, resulting in more than a dozen arrests.
The FBI, ATF and US Marshals assisted in the raids in Oakland, San Leandro, Hayward, Vallejo, Antioch, and Richmond, police said. During the operation Thursday, 16 people were arrested.
Oakland police said the investigation began seven months ago when investigators began to focus on an increased number of shootings in the North Oakland area.
"As we unpacked the incidents, looked at the intelligence, and looked at some physical evidence, we quickly learned that three groups from North Oakland, West Oakland and East Oakland had formed an alliance, becoming a super group," said Oakland Police Capt. Ersie Joiner III. "These individuals waged war and took out their aggressions on rival gangs throughout our city. They were involved in multiple shootings, the individuals who were driving this violence were contacted and we attempted to offer them services and a way out so they did not have to conduct the violence they were engaged in."
The police department's Operation Ceasefire strategy, which brings together police, prosecutors, community and faith-based organizations along with people engaged in violence or at-risk to come together in order to offer social services and support to those caught up on the cycle of violence.
Joiner III said some gang members continued to engage in violence despite the outreach, prompting the department to crack down on those persons. Thursday's arrests were the culmination of the investigations by the department's Ceasefire unit and Alameda County gang task force.
SWAT teams from 10 different agencies also participated in the raids Thursday.
The Ceasefire strategy - originally developed in Boston in the 1990s and adopted by a number of law enforcement agencies nationwide - has been credited with reducing violent crime in Oakland over the last few years despite the city's police officer shortfall.
"We're not trying to eradicate gangs, we're just trying to eliminate gang violence," said Joiner III. "It's also very important along the ceasefire model and our strategy, and keeping in context with the promise to our community, we're trying to minimize our footprint in regard to what we're doing and how we're doing it."
Police said most of those targeted in the warrants served were in custody, but there were still a number of outstanding suspects. Several firearms were recovered Thursday.
Those arrested Thursday face charges including conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, robbery, and multiple burglaries of marijuana dispensaries. Before Thursday, another 24 people had been arrested and 20 guns seized during the seven-month probe, police said.
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