A California sheriff revealed on Friday he believes drugs and guns led to the January 16 shooting in Tulare County in which six people were killed, including a 10-month-old baby.
Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux had previously said the incident appeared to be gang-related, as two victims were members of one gang and the two gunmen were members of a rival gang. The gunmen were arrested earlier this month.
A total of 26 suspects have been arrested in connection with Operation Nightmare that was launched after the massacre, including eight who were taken into custody on Friday. Boudreaux says illegal drug operations and illegal guns were the likely motivation behind the shooting. He also said the gang members were manufacturing untraceable guns to give to other gang members.
"This is about drugs, drug money, illegal drug running, and illegal firearms infiltrating the entire Central Valley," Boudreaux said in a statement. "We are able to identify future locations in different counties in California."
CALIFORNIA MURDER OF SIX, INCLUDING TEENAGE MOTHER AND INFANT, LIKELY GANG OR CARTEL RELATED: SHERIFF
Detectives served several search warrants in Visalia and Goshen areas on known gang members as part of the investigation. The detectives discovered five firearms, two pounds of meth, one ounce of cocaine, an illegal firearm manufacturing operation and gang indicia.
The illegal firearm manufacturing operation included gang members making untraceable firearms and selling them to other gang members. Detectives had found polymer-80 parts to assemble untraceable handguns, rifle parts to assemble untraceable AR-15 style rifles and parts to make handguns fully automatic.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation conducted 23 prison cell searches on known gang members throughout multiple prisons in California while the warrants were being served. The cell searches resulted in the seizing of cellphones, weapons, and gang intelligence from validated prison gang members.
Deputies announced eight new suspects arrested on Friday on drug and gun charges.
Jimmy Analla Jr, 31, was charged with possession of methamphetamine for sales and possession of cocaine for sales; Carlos Garcia Jr, 25, was charged with child endangerment, possession of an assault weapon, manufacturing an illegal weapon and gang enhancement; Carlos Garcia Sr, 44, was charged with felon in possession of a firearm and gang enhancement; Julie Balderama, 27, was charged with child endangerment.
SIX DEAD, INCLUDING TEEN MOM AND INFANT, IN BELIEVED GANG-RELATED SHOOTING
Rigoberto Benavides, 36, was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia; Patricia Flores, 30, was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and violation of parole; Michael Castro, 40, was charged with child endangerment and prohibited person in possession of a firearm; and Tommy Gonzales, 30, was charged with felon in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of ammunition and possession of a stolen firearm.
A total of 26 arrests have been made in connection with the ongoing investigation.