MODESTO (CBS13) — Detectives from Fresno and Clovis surrounded at least four homes Thursday in Modesto in search of more than 50 stolen guns.
Officers say they received several tips after a gun shop in Fresno was burglarized almost two weeks ago, one tip led them to Stanislaus County.
Fresno officers including SWAT had the area blocked off, and two nearby schools were on lockdown as police searched for multiple suspects and the weapons that were stolen.
Surveillance video outside a gun store in Fresno caught at least six people in the parking lot before detectives say it was broken into.
“It was very apparent that the suspects knew what they were looking for, perhaps they’d been in the business before and had done a good job of casing this business,” said detectives during a press conference Thursday.
In about seven minutes, police say the suspects walked away with 125 handguns and 25 rifles. A tip led the investigation to Stanislaus County where at least two of the suspects involved lived.
“Based on the photographs that were provided, as well as some investigative information, the detectives were able to determine that Nathan Kreel, 21, year old Johnny Sanchez, 21, both of Stanislaus County were involved,” he said.
Officers from Fresno, Clovis, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and SWAT served search warrants, which lead to multiple arrests and the seizure of most of the stolen weapons.
“Obviously, they are in violation of various state penal code violations, but in addition, because it involves these firearms, there’s a chance that this could also be prosecuted federally,” said Capt. Anthony Martinez of the Fresno Police Department.
Detectives say one of the suspects was on probation and was carrying a GPS ankle monitor which they were able to trace to the burglary.
“Based on that historical data on the ankle monitor, we were able to determine that Sanchez had in fact been at PRK firearm at the time of the burglary,” he said.
At one of the homes in Modesto, detectives found two handguns, one assault-style rifle with $3,800 in cash. The Fresno police chief is urging gun shop owners to secure their merchandise when the stores are closed.
Fresno police say the suspects and the evidence recovered are heading back south where the investigation will continue.