Update: Police Capture Final Two Gang Suspects in Grand Island

By: Sara Geake Email
By: Sara Geake Email

Nebraska police have arrested the two gang suspects that eluded capture in this week's massive raid in the Plains manufacturing and retail hub of Grand Island.

Police arrested 18-year-old Adrian Casares and 22-year-old Andrew Esquitin Thursday evening after police received a tip. Earlier, officers from several local, state and federal agencies had arrested 12 others: Gilbert Ontivernos, 33; Jose Hernandez, 32; Jose Espinoza, 31; Luis Cruz, 30; Herman Pacheco, 26; Joseph Pecor, 24; Eddy Cervantes, 24; Hugo Galaviz, 22; Anthony Holroyd, 20; Jose Alcorta, 20; Raymond Caseres, 18; and Ricky Amador, 18.

Authorities say the 14 men are all suspected members of the East Side Locos, which has ties to the international Surenos gang based in southern California.

The men face a combination of federal weapons and drug charges or state drug and gang recruitment charges. At least five of the men facing state charges are expected in court Friday morning.

State and federal officials believe the coordinated raid in Grand Island will significantly weaken the East Side Locos, which has international ties, believed responsible for much of Grand Island's crime.

Federal Bureau of Investigation officials have a message remaining members of the Eastside Locos and other criminal organizations.

"We will find you through aggressive investigation. We will fix you by developing evidence of your crimes and we will finish you by aggressive prosecution through the federal and state courts," said Weysan Dun, special agent in charge of the FBI's Omaha office.

120 officers from 16 agencies were part of the operation, coined "Pier Pressure." Dun says it was named because Grand Island's Pier Park has been taken over by gangs.

"This investigation focused on those crimes, particularly the crimes of violence and crimes of drug trafficking that made that park unsafe for the citizens of Grand Island," he said.

"[Thursday's] enforcement operation is a significant step towards dismantling one of the most violent criminal street organizations in Nebraska," said Mike Feinberg, acting special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security investigations.

"I want to assure those that are involved in criminal activity and participating in violent organized gang activity that if you persist in those crimes the cross hairs of justice will eventually be focused on you," said Dun.

Local officials say the operation is only the beginning.

"We can really start to collaborate with each other and as a community - not just as law enforcement - but as an entire community come up with new innovative ways to reduce the lure of gangs," said Hall County Attorney Mark Young.

Young says he hopes the leadership of the Eastside Locos is behind bars. The next step is to cut off the gang's ability to recruit. Dun says similar operations will likely happen again in the area. He says he hopes that reduces gang activity. However, authorities say gang activity won't be completely vanquished until community members report criminal acts and keep youth from being recruited.

FBI officials say the East Side Locos had its origins in Southern California's Sureno gang.


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