By Tamas Mondovics

“Today our streets are much safer as the key members of this gang are taken off our streets,”said HCSO Colonel, Donna Lusczynski, as she announced the results of a 10-month-long investigation which led to the arrest of eleven suspected members of the violent street gang, Nortenos, also known as Norte 14.

“These are the worst of the worst criminals,” Lusczynski added.

Due to a string of violent crimes in the region, stemming from a significant increase in gang-related violence in east Hillsborough including drive-by shootings involving the Nortenos, ‘Operation Red Dawn’ began with investigators targeting eastern Hillsborough County and at least three other Bay area counties including Pasco, Polk, and Manatee.

The Nortenos gang originates from California and are identified by the color red and the number 14. The suspects arrested, ages 17-27, were involved with homicides, robberies, aggravated batteries and drug trafficking as well as graffiti.

The HCSO arrested Miguel Quiroz, 17; Michael Irvin Workman, 19; Sergio Calderon, 21; Michael Angelo Lugo, 22; Oscar Ontiveros, 22; Domingo Rosales, 22; Adrian Mata, 24; Francisco Joseph Rondon, 24; Paul Lee Anthony Sanchez, 24; Nahum Calderon, 25 and Jonathan Rondon, 27.

“Operation Red Dawn was a complex investigation, and our deputies did a great job, which will continue to be the case,” Lusczynski said. “We have to keep sending out the message that we will stay on top of these gangs and will take criminals off the street.”

Each of the eleven suspects faces racketeering charges for crimes including aggravated battery, robbery, aggravated assault and homicide and according to Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi, “A minimum of 30 years in Florida State prison.”

“I cannot thank Sheriff David Gee and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office enough for their hard work,” Bondi said. “They recruit them to become gang members, especially kids, and tell them that they are going to give them a sense of family, but the truth is that joining a gang is not about family. It’ not a club,” Bondi said. “It is about becoming a violent criminal.”

Although the arrest of key members is a major blow to the gang, HCSO officials said that with close to 100 members within Hillsborough County, more arrests are likely.

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