Federal authorities on Wednesday announced the indictment of eight members and associates of a Santa Rosa gang on a variety of charges including racketeering, attempted murder, robbery and drug trafficking.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco released details of the alleged gang conspiracy contained in a 17-count federal grand jury indictment against the Varrio South Park gang.
Three defendants were arrested Tuesday night in a joint law enforcement operation in Sonoma County.
Four additional defendants were already in custody at the Sonoma County Jail and were transferred into federal custody to face charges.
All were arraigned in federal court Wednesday, except for one defendant who is being sought, according to the statement from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.
The 34-page indictment detailed a long list of charges, including assaults and shootings.
It describes the Varrio South Park gang as first appearing in Santa Rosa in the early 1990s, when several members of an existing norteño gang in Santa Rosa — the South Side Posse — split because of internal disagreements over the gang's racial composition.
According to the indictment, there are approximately 90 active VSP members.
The suspected racketeering conspiracy has occurred since at least the mid-2000s, according to the indictment.
Santa Rosa Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm said Wednesday night that it's “a big deal” that federal authorities became involved.
“It infers it's not just a Santa Rosa situation,” he said of the scope of the criminal activity.
“The federal government does not have unlimited resources. To get the attention of the U.S. Attorney, it has to be a fairly significant case,” he said.
He noted that there is a Safe Streets Task Force that focuses on gangs and includes Santa Rosa Police, the FBI, CHP and the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office.