U.S. Attorney Scott announces results from joint initiative to reduce ongoing violence in Vallejo
Operation PEACE partners federal and local law enforcement agencies to fight violent crime and bring to justice those responsible for murders and shootings in Vallejo
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announces outcomes in Operation PEACE, an initiative launched in Vallejo in August 2020 in response to the increased number of homicides, non-fatal shootings and other violent crimes in Vallejo. By late August 2020, the city had recorded 19 homicides, as well as a significant uptick in shootings and other violent crimes.
Beginning in September 2020, the Vallejo Police Department expanded the reach of Operation PEACE through a partnership formed between the Vallejo Police Department, the Solano County District Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Operation PEACE leverages the strength of these federal and local law enforcement agencies by focusing enforcement operations on violent criminals, including those responsible for murders and shootings, and targets involved in drug trafficking and firearms trafficking.
“Operation PEACE has successfully taken armed, violent criminals off the streets of Vallejo,” U.S. Attorney Scott said. “These successes will continue as the partnership between federal and local law enforcement agencies continue and bring about a safer Vallejo.”
“We must all remember that behind the statistics are real people experiencing real trauma,” Vallejo Chief of Police Shawny Williams stated. “Our community needs and deserves our compassion, service and commitment during times of difficulty and we are hopeful that Operation PEACE will help us achieve that goal.”
“Drug traffickers often use violence, fear and intimidation as tactics. They have little regard for human life or the communities in which they live. They profit off the pain and suffering of people,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux. “Spikes in violent crime require a swift, calculated, and intel-driven law enforcement response like this one. We will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners to ensure the health and safety of the community.”
“I am truly grateful for the assistance and cooperation of all the local and federal law enforcement partners who remain committed to reducing the gun violence throughout our community,” said District Attorney Krishna Abrams.
“The FBI and our Solano County Violent Crime Task Force affirmed our commitment to the region by surging resources to support Operation PEACE in Vallejo and the urgent need to reduce violent crime in the community. Together, with our task force officers from the Vallejo Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Solano County Sheriff’s Office, Benicia Police Department, Fairfield Police Department, and Vacaville Police Department, our investigative and analytic teams have dedicated more than 3,200 service hours to ensure the success of our collaborative local, state, and federal efforts to reduce violent crime in Vallejo,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “Every family should have the opportunity to live, work, and play without fear, and we ask the community to join us in our stand against violence. You can make a difference. If you have information about crime in your community, call our tip line or submit information online to help ensure a safe environment in all of our neighborhoods.”
“The U.S. Marshals Service task force committed over 40 officers for this operation to help relieve the fear and violence of those who live in the City of Vallejo,” U.S. Marshal Lasha Boyden said. “As a result of teamwork and partnership, we were able to track and apprehend some of Vallejo’s most violent offenders.”
“Operation PEACE was a multi-agency law enforcement investigation related to the ongoing violent criminal activity in the city of Vallejo,” said Special Agent in Charge Patrick Gorman, San Francisco Field Division, ATF. “Protecting the public is at the forefront of ATF’s mission, and while working side by side with our partners, ATF focused on our central role in combatting gun violence. Together, the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation leveraged our resources and specialties to reduce the illegal use and possession of firearms, as well as the illegal distribution of narcotics in the Vallejo area. ATF and our law enforcement partners have made a tremendous effort to make the city of Vallejo a safer community, and we remain committed in doing our part to disrupt the shooting cycle by identifying, investigating, and prosecuting violent criminals and the sources of their crime guns, and remove them from our communities. ”
“HSI agents were highly focused on stopping these criminals’ lawless reign of shootings, narcotics trafficking and a number of other illegal activities. The success of this case was made possible through the partnership of HSI with the Vallejo Police Department, FBI, ATF, DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Solano County District Attorney. We look forward to continuing our valuable partnership, as we combat modern slavery known as human trafficking, gang violence, and a host of other criminal activities that have no place in Northern California,” said HSI NorCal Special Agent in Charge Tatum King.
In the first phase of Operation PEACE, during the week of Sept. 21–25, the Marshals Service and Vallejo Police Department apprehended 25 fugitives who were violent offenders with outstanding state and federal arrest warrants, including fugitives wanted for lewd and lascivious acts on a minor and resisting arrest.
In the second phase of Operation PEACE, the DEA spearheaded an effort to target violent offenders engaged in large-scale drug trafficking within Vallejo and suppliers outside of Vallejo. Using confidential informants and undercover agents, the Operation PEACE teams conducted over 12 controlled drug purchases, which led to multiple search and arrests operations. These efforts led to the federal prosecution the following:
Michael Williams, 58, and Clarence Courtney, 55, both of Vallejo, were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin and methamphetamine, distribution of heroin, distribution of methamphetamine, and possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. Courtney is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Because Courtney has four prior drug trafficking felony convictions, he is prohibited from possessing a firearm. According to court documents, Williams sold an undercover agent over 2 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and over 1 ounce (32 grams) of heroin between September and November 2020. Courtney sourced the methamphetamine and heroin to Williams. On Dec. 3, agents arrested Williams and Courtney and found them to be in possession of over 3 pounds of methamphetamine. Agents later found a ghost-gun assault rifle, a handgun, and over 100 rounds of ammunition in Courtney’s residence. Williams also has an extensive criminal history, with seven prior felonies for drug trafficking, theft, and burglary.
Darren Tramaine Tony Mitchell, 30, and Ronald John Garnes, 42, both of Vallejo, were charged with conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. Mitchell was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Mitchell, who has seven prior felony convictions for drug trafficking, burglary, and firearms offenses, is prohibited from possessing a firearm. When agents searched the residence where Mitchell and Garnes both lived, they found an active methamphetamine tablet manufacturing operation that included a pill press, pill binding materials, manufacturing equipment, and thousands of methamphetamine tablets shaped like superheroes. They also found an assault rifle and a handgun in the dishwasher in the kitchen. Garnes also has an extensive criminal history, with five prior felony convictions. He had recently been released from prison after a conviction for attempted murder.
Marques Julius Johnson, 39, of Sacramento, and Calvin James Smith, 32, were charged in criminal complaints with distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Johnson was also charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. According to court documents, undercover operatives conducted multiple purchases of counterfeit MDMA tablets containing methamphetamine from Johnson in Vallejo. On Dec. 9, Johnson and Smith were arrested together during an undercover purchase in Vallejo and found to be in possession of 6,000 methamphetamine tablets and a loaded pistol. Smith was also found carrying an AR-15, loaded with a high capacity magazine.
The above cases are the product of investigations by DEA Sacramento with assistance from HSI, FBI, ATF, and the Vallejo Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Desmond is prosecuting the cases against Courtney and Mitchell, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexis Nelsen is prosecuting the case against Johnson.
Brian Earl Turner, 32, of Vallejo, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to court documents, on Sept. 16, Turner possessed a Glock 27, .40‑caliber handgun. Turner has been convicted of assault on a person with a semi‑automatic firearm and is prohibited from possessing a firearm.
Lamonte Eshawn Percoats, 33, of Vallejo, was charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. According to court documents, on Sept. 29, Percoats possessed a Taurus 9 mm, and at least 100 grams of heroin. Percoats has been convicted of four prior convictions: possession of a controlled substance while armed, assault with a deadly weapon (not a firearm), being a felon in possession of a firearm, and an assault with a deadly weapon. These prior convictions prohibit Percoats from possessing a firearm.
The cases against Turner and Percoats are the product of investigations by the Solano County Violent Crime Task Force, which includes the following law enforcement partnerships: Vallejo Police Department, Vacaville Police Department, Fairfield Police Department, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Solano County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, Benicia Police Department and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Thomas is prosecuting both cases.
The charges are only allegations, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
During these investigations, Operation PEACE partners took multiple dangerous high-capacity firearms and drugs off the street.
The Solano County District Attorney’s Office continues to work with the Operation PEACE Partners for local prosecutions of violent offenders and is coordinating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding the federal adoption of certain cases.
Phase two of Operation PEACE is ongoing and will continue to target violent subjects committing crimes in Vallejo until the violence stops. Some of these efforts include complex, long-term investigations that are likely to result in future state and federal prosecutions of violent individuals. Operation PEACE will continue to hold those responsible for violence in our community through enforcement and prosecutions in effort to break the cycle of violence.