By Tamas Mondovics


Nearly two years following a successful special operation and investigation, “Red Dawn,” the 11  arrested and suspected key members of the violent street gang Nortenos, also known as “Norte 14”, have been convicted and sentenced last month.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff Office, the Florida Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, and the Plant City Police Department collectively investigated and prosecuted members of the “Norte 14” criminal gang, who through a string of violent crimes, including drive-by shootings, terrorized residents throughout Hillsborough, Manatee and Polk counties by committing aggravated battery, aggravated assault, robbery and homicide.

“The prosecution of the gang included 11 defendants with nine gang members entering pleas prior to trail,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Larry McKinnon. “The nine members will serve a total of more than 45 years in prison followed by probation.”

McKinnon emphasized that Sheriff David Gee’s number one priority is the elimination of violent crime and gang-related crimes in Hillsborough County.

“Sheriff Gee pledges to the citizens of Hillsborough County that HCSO will do what is necessary and go wherever is needed to combat violent crime and capture those offenders who seek to ruin the quality of life for others.

Upon the arrest of the Nortanos, HCSO Colonel, Donna  Lusczynski put things in perspective when she said, “Today our streets are much safer as the key members of this gang were taken off our streets,”she said, adding, “These are the worst of the worst criminals.”

According to HCSO investigators, Operation Red Dawn was a complex investigation as it sends out the message that deputies will stay on top of such gangs like the Norte 14 and, will take criminals off the street.

The nine gang members that entered pleas prior to trail include: Nahum Calderon, 26, Sergio Calderon, 23, Michael Lugo, 24, Adrain Mata, 26, Oscar Ontiveros, 24, Francisco Quiroz, 19,

Domingo Rosales, 24, Paul Sanchez, 26 and Michael Workman, 21.

The Nortenos gang is originating from California, and are identified by the color red and the number 14. Its rival is known as the Sureños. The suspects arrested range of age is from 17 to 27.

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