A daring California detective has been presented with the California Peace Officer Association Award of Distinction. This prestigious award honored his work as lead detective on a massive, movie-like gang case.
Three Year Investigation
Detective Byron Gansen of the Salinas Police Department in California led the investigation into a group of Norteno gang members. His 3-year investigation uncovered that the street gang coordinated and operations to find, track down and execute their gang rivals, the Surenos.
If the Norteno gang members couldn’t locate any of the Sureno street gang members they would execute random people, typically male Latino migrant workers. This dangerous Norteno group is known as the “Murder Squad” and they were responsible for many deadly shootings over two years.
The Murder Squad were responsible for at least seven shootings from January 2017 through November 2018, killing at least eight and injuring many more. Seven of the murder victims had no gang affiliation whatsoever, the Nortenos killed them simply because they could.
The non-gang affiliated victims were vulnerable and fit the racial stereotype. The Murder Squad had little care whether or not the victims were actual rivals. The higher the body count, the higher the status.
A federal grand jury indicted six of the Salinas Norteno members on October 22, 2020. They were charged with racketeering, murder, conspiracy to commit murder, as well as firearm and other gang-related offenses.
Detective Gansen’s work made these indictments possible. He put in endless hours conducting surveillance, interviews, and detective work. With these six men off the streets, murders in Salinas have gone down drastically, and the gangs have less of a hold on the area.
The citizen’s confidence in the Salinas Police Department has also increased. Gansen worked with other law enforcement agencies in the area on local, state, and federal levels.
Detective Gansen partnered with the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, The Nothern District of Californias Organized Crime Strike Force of the United States Attorney’s Office, and Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.
Even though he partnered with other agencies, Gansen was and still is leading the investigation in an attempt to prosecute others. So far, five more suspects have been taken into custody on homicide charges.
His work is vastly changing the landscape in Salinas and Monterey County and helping to release those communities from horrific violence and crime at the hands of these deadly gangs.