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The Law Unleashes a Force of 550 Personnel on Fresno Area Norteños, Nuestra Familia
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 1 year ago on
May 26, 2023

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The massive multi-agency “Operation Broken Bonds” produced 34 gang-related arrests and the seizure of 64 firearms and nearly 9 pounds of meth, fentanyl, and cocaine, authorities said Friday.

On Thursday, nearly 550 federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel executed 54 search warrants in Parlier, Reedley, Del Rey, Dinuba, and Clovis.

The 100-day undercover investigation focused on criminal activity by the Nuestra Familia prison gang and the Norteño criminal street gang in Fresno County.

In a news release, the state Department of Justice said that the sweep zeroed in on the Varrio Colonia Parlier Norteños criminal street gang, “who are alleged to be responsible for an increase in violence, including homicides, and illegal firearms in the Fresno area, specifically the cities of Reedley and Parlier.”

The state DOJ also said the group is accused of making threats to local law enforcement, including a 2022 arson against a Parlier Police Department vehicle.

Suspected Murderer of Silvano Mendoza Arrested

Among those arrested was Francisco Munoz Jr., 26, who was charged with murder by the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office in the killing of Silvano Mendoza, 52, in June 2021.

“Mendoza was a field worker on his way to his job with other co-workers. He was in a car, pulling up to a home on the 13000 block of 9th Street in Parlier when he was shot,” Fresno County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Botti said in a news release.

ABC30 reported earlier this month that Mendoza had five children and 10 grandchildren. Normally, he didn’t work on Sundays, but he decided to head to the fields to earn extra money the day he was gunned down, family members said.

Suspects in Other Unsolved Murders

“Detectives believe some of the people arrested are responsible for other unsolved murders in Parlier. They are working with prosecutors to finalize these investigations and are confident charges will be filed against the suspects in the coming weeks,” Botti said.

Said state Attorney General Rob Bonta: “Today’s announcement is a result of strong partnerships by law enforcement agencies in the Fresno area, and throughout our state, to address violence and criminal enterprises. … I want to thank the work of our local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies for their collaboration in making Fresno County a safer place. Protecting public safety is our highest priority and we won’t rest until the job is done.”

Operation Broken Bonds focused on criminal activity by the Nuestra Familia prison gang and the Norteño criminal street gang in Fresno County. (Fresno County SO)

Federal Charges Include Conspiracy to Commit Murder

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the filing of federal charges Friday against more than a dozen men arrested in the operation. Several of them are charged with conspiring to commit murder and attempted murder. The federal defendants and their charges:

  • Victor Javier Zermeno, 34, of Clovis, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine;
  • Matthew Pete Mendez, 32, of Reedley, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute meth and fentanyl, and being a felon in possession of a firearm;
  • Miguel Angel Barragan, 27, of Parlier, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and attempted murder in aid of racketeering, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and attempted bribery;
  • Joey Noel Magadan, 20, of Cutler, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and attempted murder in aid of racketeering, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, interference with commerce by robbery, and using, carrying, or brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and aiding and abetting;
  • Jonathan Maldonado, 33, of Parlier, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and attempted murder in aid of racketeering, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and being a felon in possession of ammunition;
  • Ezequiel Maximino Guzman, 18, of Del Rey, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and attempted murder in aid of racketeering, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence;
  • Victor Diaz-Aguilar, 30, of Fresno, being a felon in possession of ammunition;
  • Francisco Diaz-Salinas, 40, of Parlier, being a felon in possession of a firearm;
  • Eduardo Amezcua, 32, of Reedley, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine;
  • Michael Neri, 33, of Reedley, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine;
  • Alejandro Hawkins, 24, of Reedley, distribution of cocaine;
  • Francisco Ferman, 28, of Delano, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute meth;
  • Ivan Hernandez, 25, of Parlier, interference with commerce by robbery, and using, carrying, or brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and aiding and abetting.
The men and women pictured above, as well as others not pictured, were arrested on Thursday, May 25, 2023. (Fresno County SO)

Participating Agencies

The following agencies participated in Operation Broken Bonds:

  •  Clovis Police Department
  •  Fresno Police Department
  •  Kingsburg Police Department
  •  Visalia Police Department
  •  Merced Police Gang Violence Suppression Unit
  • Fresno County Sheriff’s Office
  •  Tulare County Sheriff’s Office
  •  Fresno County District Attorney’s Office
  •  High Impact Investigation Team
  •  California Highway Patrol
  •  California Department of Justice
  •  California State Parole
  • Avenal State Prison Crisis Response Team 8
  • Corcoran State Prison Crisis Response Team 10
  • Valley State Prison Chowchilla Crisis Response Team 11
  • Salinas Valley State Prison Crisis Response Team 12
  • Kern Valley State Prison Crisis Response Team 13
  • Tehachapi State Prison Crisis Response Team 15
  • CDCR Special Service Unit
  • FBI
  • DEA
  • ATF
  • U.S. Marshals Service
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of California

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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