Eight West Side residents were arrested on suspicion of illegal drug offenses, while a 21-year-old Patterson woman was cited and released for a suspected probation violation.
Area resident Theresa Duran said she heard a large boom at about 5:30 a.m. and went with her mother to see what had happened. Another neighbor said the explosion sounded like a “flash-bang,” a nonlethal grenade that is used to confuse a person inside a building before an arrest.
In addition, a sheriff’s van knocked down a picket fence in front of 520 W. Las Palmas Ave. at the time of the raid, according to an area witness.
Police blocked off the intersection of Sixth Street and Las Palmas Avenue and the surrounding alleyways for some time while serving the warrants early Tuesday morning, neighbors said.
Detectives found and detained more than 20 people who were found inside the homes, Sgt. Anthony Bejaran of the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department stated in a release. One of the houses had no utilities and was previously declared vacant, according to Bejaran. Some of the people who were detained were questioned and later released. Detectives found evidence inside all three homes relating to the investigation, Bejaran stated.
The search warrants were served in the early morning hours to avoid any safety risks to nearby schools and to avoid traffic congestion which occurs during the daytime, according to Bejaran. As a result, police were able to serve the warrants without any negative impact to the community, he said.
The following people were arrested in the raid:
• Babette Spears, 41, of Patterson, on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance and a probation violation
• Frank Minjarez, 46, of Patterson, on suspicion of possession of marijuana for sale, heroin possession, and narcotics sales near a school grounds
• Jose Ramos, 53, of Patterson, on suspicion of possession of heroin and narcotics sales near a school grounds
• Alma Quintero, 20, of Newman, on suspicion of heroin possession
• Gabriel Minjarez, 18, of Patterson, on suspicion of possession of marijuana for sales
• Claralyn Smith, 37, of Patterson, on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance for sale, possession of heroin and narcotics sales near a school grounds
• Luis Figueroa, 29, of Patterson, on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance and a probation violation
• Pedro Palafox, 25, of Patterson, on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance and a probation violation
• Marisol Hernandez, 21, of Patterson, who was cited and released for allegedly violating probation.
Neighbors and Las Palmas parents said the homes where the warrants were served had become notorious for drug deals over the years, and they were happy to see the homes raided.
“To quote Mr. Rogers, ‘It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,’” said one neighbor, who did not want to give her name because of fear for her safety. “This is way past due. I commend the sheriff’s department for doing their job.”
The neighbor said she regularly saw people stopping by and knocking on the home’s windows, including youths on skateboards. In addition to Las Palmas School, the homes that were raided stand within a block of Berean Christian School and the Kingdom Kidz Child Development Center at Family Christian Center, her husband noted.
A few mothers of Las Palmas Elementary School students, who watched the action from across the street at about 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, said that vehicles regularly make quick stops at the home and then leave.
The area of West Las Palmas Avenue and Sixth Street where the homes stand has been the site of other drug-related criminal activity in recent years, including the shooting of a 20-year-old woman in the ankle and the abdomen in April 2011.
The mothers of the Las Palmas students said they would not drop off their children near the homes for safety reasons.
“It’s sad that it’s right across the street from the school,” one of the mothers said. “I’m just glad (police) are finally doing something about it.”
She noted it was ironic that the warrants were being served during Red Ribbon Week, a week dedicated to alcohol and tobacco prevention at schools nationwide.
Anyone with information about this investigation can call Detective David Hickman at 892-5071. People can also leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at 521-4636 or email tips at www.modestopolice.com/CrimeStoppers or text them to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tip704" plus the message to be eligible for a cash reward.
• Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187, ext. 26, or firstname.lastname@example.org.