SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — On Wednesday, South Bay authorities released new details about a gang sweep that netted 23 arrests, 600 pounds of marijuana, 4,000 pills of ecstasy, a baby alligator and one disgraced San Jose police officer.
Veteran San Jose police officer Derrick Antonio was one of the suspects taken into custody Tuesday during a sweep by local and federal law enforcement officers of a Vietnamese gang involved in gambling, extortion, drugs, assault and public corruption.
Authorities said the sweep capped an investigation of the gang’s operations within San Jose’s large Vietnamese community that began in March and went under the name “Gang of Thrones.” The gang allegedly operated out of local cafes and extorted money from the owners.
Antonio is a nine-year veteran with the department. The San Jose Police Department worked closely with the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the FBI to execute the operation.
Antonio became implicated in the operation when a tip came in that he was accessing information, including police reports, and passing it off to members of a violent Vietnamese street gang.
“His acts were deplorable and in no way represent the character of the remaining members of this department,” said San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia.
Law enforcement sources told KPIX 5 that gang investigators had been listening to wiretaps for months. They had no idea a cop was involved until they heard a suspect say something like “have your guy check NCIC” to see if they were being watched.
NCIC is the FBI’s National Crime Information Center.
Every time an officer checks the database, the system logs the activity. It wasn’t long before investigators followed the electronic trail back to Antonio.
What’s more, police sources say investigators allowed Antonio to keep it up, so they could strengthen their case against him and round up more suspects.
A total of 34 search warrants were served during this investigation in California and Louisiana.
Investigators recovered over 4,000 Ecstasy pills, 300 Zanex pills, 200 Molly tablets, illegal steroids and over 600 pounds of marijuana. 420 pounds of the pot was seized by the Louisiana State Police in transit from San Jose.
Five handguns, several vehicles, 69 gambling machines and $200,000 in cash were also taken.
Authorities did not release specific details about the baby alligator beyond listing the reptile among the items seized during the operation.
The operation resulted in the arrest of 23 suspects who are known members or associates of a criminal street gang in San Jose. Antonio and the other suspects were booked into Santa Clara County Jail.
Antonio was booked on five felony counts of unauthorized computer access and one count of accessory after the fact. The other suspects booked there face charges ranging from extortion, public corruption, narcotic trafficking, assault, illegal gun possession, and conspiracy.
Two of the suspects were arrested in Anaheim by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
Six other suspects remain at large for various felonies, including; conspiracy, accessory after the fact, narcotics and gambling.
Antonio has been on paid administrative leave since June 2016.
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