SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — A crackdown on gun violence in one San Jose neighborhood has led to multiple arrests and the seizure of illegal weapons and drugs.
“Operation Redwood” was a joint investigation between the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office, San Jose Police and the FBI and targeted the Seven Trees neighborhood in South San Jose.
Police arrested eight suspects for gun-related crimes, including one murder suspect; 26-year-old Jose Ramirez of San Jose.
Ramirez is accused of shooting and killing 34-year-old Nathan Johnson Harper of Fresno in December of 2018 outside of El Rancho Liquors on Almaden Road.
The killing had frustrated investigators, until a data-driven crime analysis of all gun crimes in San Jose was conducted by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office brought Ramirez to the surface. Police say he had a record of other gun-related crimes.
Investigators put dots on a map of all gun crimes in San Jose, creating what they called a “heat map.” Patterns emerged as investigators literally connected the dots.
“Who are the people in the neighborhood we keep seeing, who keep getting arrested with guns? Where are they coming from? And what is in common between them?” said Marisa McKeown, who leads the D.A.’s Crime Strategies Unit.
Investigators determined many of the gun crimes were committed by the same people.
“The same guns, the same suspects and the same steady stream of bloodshed in Seven Trees,” said District Attorney Jeff Rosen. “The people of Seven Trees are rightfully proud of their neighborhood. None of us in law enforcement will allow anyone to turn your streets, your homes, your parks, your schools or your community centers into crime scenes.”
The Operation went into effect in early April, with both federal, state, and local officers serving nine search warrants. In one search, police found and dismantled a fully operational and a dangerous butane honey oil lab in a home with minors in a residential neighborhood. In another location police found $42,000 in cash, a kilogram of cocaine, heroin, eight pistols and an assault rifle.
“Investigators took this map and identified locations where guns were likely being used. They discovered stash pads for all kinds of criminal activity, and actually a murder suspect,” said San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia.
“We definately are going to rest a little bit easier at night,” said Jonathan Velasquez, president of the Seven Trees Neighborhood Association. Velasquez also said he hopes this investigation is the beginning, not the end.
“The people who were arrested were not all linked. We know they all have their own networks who are still out there, so we hope they can address that soon,” he said.
Police say they will apply the same methodology to other types of crimes like burglaries.