On Thursday, January 28th, a multi-property search warrant was executed at 7 am. The warrant was executed at one site in Thousand Oaks and at seven others in Oxnard. During their search, authorities discovered gang-related graffiti, about 50 cans of spray paint, and several replica and real firearms. Two weapons – a rifle, and a handgun – were allegedly stolen.
In all, seven arrests were made. Four arrests came on charges of misdemeanor vandalism, as well as felony-level commission of crimes to benefit a street gang. Three other people were arrested on weapons and some narcotics charges. All suspects save for one were booked into Ventura County Jail.
When someone is a member of a gang and they commit crimes associated with that gang, they run afoul of some state and federal laws. Believe it or not, it is illegal in California to be a member of a street gang, especially when you commit any crimes to benefit that gang. California Penal Code 186.22(a) PC makes it illegal to be a member of a street gang and to help in any criminal conduct associated therewith. 186.22 PC can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case and the suspect’s prior criminal history. Misdemeanor charges typically carry the penalty of up to one year in county jail, while felony convictions can net a defendant a state prison sentence of 16 months, two, or three years.
Additionally, gang members face additional punishments based on the state’s anti-gang laws. California Penal Code 186.22(b) PC provides that anyone who commits a felony to benefit a street gang receives a mandatory prison sentence in addition to the sentence for the underlying felony. For example, someone convicted under 186.22(b) PC who is part of a gang and selling drugs would be charged with two crimes, being part of a gang and selling drugs, and receive two consecutive sentences.