News Story


Fillmore - Gang Members Arrested for Recruiting Juveniles
12/23/2014 11:42:00 AM


Nature of Incident: Gang Members Arrested for Recruiting Juveniles in Fillmore
Report Number: 14-28381
Location: 400 block Saratoga St. Fillmore, CA
500 block Santa Clara Ave Fillmore, CA
700 block Island View Dr Fillmore, CA
4200 block Center St Piru, CA
300 block Del Valle Dr. Fillmore, CA

Date & Time: 12/19/2014 @ 0700 hours
Unit(s) Responsible: Sheriff's Office Special Enforcement Units, Special Crimes Unit, Sheriff's Gang Unit, and Fillmore Station Patrol Deputies
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (P)arty, (D)ecedent City of Residence Age
(V) Male juvenile Fillmore 16
(S) Male juvenile Fillmore 16
(S) Brad Beltran Fillmore 25
(S) Vincent Meraz Piru 23
(S) Salvador Velgara San Fernando 26
(S) Damien Virgen Fillmore 23
(S) Rudy Meraz Piru 18
(S) Joseph Cabral Fillmore 25

On 12/19/2014, investigators and deputies served a multi-location search warrant related to an investigation involving the recruitment of two juveniles into a criminal street gang that operates in the Fillmore area. Arrests were made as a result of the investigation.

A photo of the gang members and video footage of the gang 'Jump in' is available via web link A Spanish audio file of the news story by a Sheriff's public information officer, Deputy Judith Porter, is available via web link

On 10/31/14, the Sheriff's Gang Unit served a search warrant in the City of San Fernando in Los Angeles County at the residence of Salvador Velgara. Velgara is a documented member of a criminal street gang that operates in the city of Fillmore and surrounding communities. Investigators located three firearms and methamphetamine possessed for the purpose of sales. Investigators also located a digital camera that contained two videos of a gang initiation rite known as a 'Jump In.' A 'Jump in' is a violent introduction to the gang in which the new member is subjected to a physical assault by his fellow gang members.

Investigators identified the two subjects being 'Jumped in' as juvenile residents of the City of Fillmore. California Penal Code section 186.26 (solicitation or recruitment to participate in a criminal street gang) makes it a felony to recruit someone into a gang with specific enhancements for the use of violence and additional enhancements when the person being recruited is a juvenile.

Sheriff's Gang Unit investigators learned that the 'Jump in' took place in March of 2013 in the backyard of a residence in the 300 block of Del Valle Drive in Fillmore, CA. Investigators identified the participants of the 'Jump in' as Brad Beltran, Vincent Meraz, Salvador Velgara, Damien Virgen, Rudy Meraz, and two male juveniles who are both age16.

On 12/19/2014, a combined team of 36 Sheriff's Office investigators and deputies served warrants at five locations to retrieve evidence related to the crime. During the service of the warrants, Vincent Meraz, Rudy Meraz and one of the juveniles were arrested for violating Penal Code section 186.26. Brad Beltran and Salvador Velgara who were already in custody on other charges were also arrested by detectives for violating Penal Code section 186.26. Damien Virgen was contacted by phone and later turned himself in. Joseph Cabral was arrested after detectives found a collapsible baton, methamphetamine, and a methamphetamine pipe in his bedroom.

Prepared by: Sergeant Jeremy Paris #3545
Media Release Date: 12/23/2014
Media Follow-Up Contact: Captain Don Aguilar
805 797-7349
Approved by: Captain Patti Salas

Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).