19 in gang sweep to remain in federal custody

SAN DIEGO - An El Cajon man labeled by prosecutors as "the lead defendant" in a series of alleged conspiracies run by a violent San Diego criminal street gang was ordered by a Las Vegas judge Friday to remain in federal custody -- as one of almost four dozen people arrested on racketeering, drug and weapons charges.

Randy Alton Graves, 50, was captured in the Nevada resort city Thursday evening, hours after a roundup of purported gang members around San Diego County.

He made his initial court appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach, who ordered him held as a danger to the community and a flight risk.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said the El Cajon resident will be returned to San Diego for prosecution, though when that might occur is unknown.

In San Diego earlier today, 17 men and two women also had their first court appearances, and a judge ordered them held in custody pending a detention hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

In a news conference Thursday, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said the members of "a particularly volatile and violent" gang were rounded up by more than 500 law enforcement officers from numerous agencies.

Authorities said the operation began as a drug investigation by El Cajon police. But after connections were made to other people and alleged crimes, it snowballed to include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, the FBI and the San Diego Police Department.

The gang was active in El Cajon, Spring Valley and the San Diego neighborhoods of Logan Heights and East San Diego, according to Duffy, who said the sweep netted 45 suspects.

Nine of the defendants who appeared in court Friday are charged with rackeeting: Donald Eugene Bandy, 25, of San Diego; Solcamire Castro-Hernandez, 28, of San Diego; Jermain Gerald Cook, 29, of San Diego; Leon Franklin, 39, of San Diego; Sharod Jackson, 45, of San Diego; Gaquayla Aunicia Lagrone, 31, of San Diego; Luis Salgado-Viscarra, 26, of Spring Valley; Dameon Deshawn Shelton, 40, of National City; and Cleotha Young, 36, of San Diego.

Charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime are David William Centrone, 31, of El Cajon; Terry Gerald Woods, 53, of El Cajon; Reuben Carlton Morales, 27, of El Cajon; Rene Faburrieta, 33, of Long Beach; Steven Luis Figueroa, 25, of Long Beach; and Mark Manuel Espinosa, whose age and city of residence were not provided.

Charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime and being a felon in possession of a firearm are William Eugene Wash, 27, of Lemon Grove; Jessie Smith, 30, of San Diego; David Rojas, 21, of San Diego; and Terrell Davon Guss, 22, of Spring Valley.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Nita Stormes set Wednesday's detention hearing after prosecutors called the defendants -- who all face up to life in prison if convicted -- flight risks and threats to public safety. They did not enter pleas to the charges.

Authorities said that during the sweep, they found handguns, sawed-off shotguns, rifles and ammunition. Duffy said the serial numbers and other identifying information on the firearms had been removed.

She said the officers who took part in the raids also discovered various types of drugs and hundreds of thousands of dollars of counterfeit bills.

Some of the defendants were also allegedly involved in recent homicides, Duffy said. She said some of the murder victims were members or associates of the gang who were accused of cooperating with police, or who criticized other killings.

Another group of defendants, who will be prosecuted by the District Attorney's Office, are scheduled to be arraigned Monday at the San Diego County Courthouse.

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