SANTA CLARA (KRON) — The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office on Monday said that 20 people linked to Oakland’s “Ghost Town Gang” have been charged for operating an auto burglary ring targeting victims throughout the Bay Area.
One of the defendants in was also charged with attempted murder for trying to run over a Santa Clara police officer who was trying to arrest him, the DA’s office said.
The violent group is alleged to have committed more than 50 auto burglaries in various Bay Area cities including Fremont, Santa Clara, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Pinole, San Mateo, San Francisco, and Oakland, according to the indictment.
“What’s exceptional here is the brazenness of their scheme and the scope of the conduct involved – there’s hardly a city in the entire Bay Area that this group didn’t hit.”
“The criminal grand jury considered allegations that the gang members would rent cars to scout parking lots in shopping malls, such as the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto and McCarthy Ranch in Milpitas,” Santa Clara Deputy District Attorney Sandip Patel said in a statement.
According to Patel, the Ghost Town Gang members “would use small groups to target cars to break into, typically looking for iPads, iPhones, laptops, and other electronic devices that can be easily re-sold.”
Another defendant indicted in the case is already facing charges in San Francisco related to the robbery of a TV news crew.
All 21 defendants face felony vehicular burglary charges with gang allegations that, if proven, could result in substantial state prison sentences, Patel said.
The grand jury considered allegations that the gang members stole hundreds of such devices during their crime spree, Patel said.
Charged with the attempted murder is 31-year-old Danny Garcia. 11 of those indicted are in custody:
- Steven Espadron, 32
- Jawon Finch, 30
- Danny Garcia, 31
- Joey Haines, 31
- Michael Jones, 23
- Ricky Joseph, 27
- Deante Menefee, 27
- Eddie Nute, 21
- Sitteruiet Taylor, 36
- Lamont Williams, 26
- Exrill Wilson, 32
Five of the 21 alleged members were arraigned in San Jose Monday. Deante Menefee, 27, Sitteruiet Taylor, 36, Lamont Williams, 26, Exrill Wilson 32, and Andrew Peacock were arraigned this afternoon at the Hall of Justice.
They pleaded not guilty and were scheduled for trial on Jan. 19.
Bay City News contributed to this report.