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Fugitive task force, street crimes unit team up to nab gun, gang suspects

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Hector Ontoniel Flores2 / 3
Hector Lieonel Flores3 / 3

FARGO—During the past seven weeks, a joint effort by the Metro Street Crimes Unit and the U.S. Marshals Service High Plains Fugitive Task Force netted 26 arrests involving people wanted for gun offenses, or people known to be associated with gangs who also had active felony warrants.

Dubbed, "Operation Winter Harvest," the campaign began around Halloween and ended on Friday, Dec. 16.

The operation was kicked off by the highly publicized arrest of two brothers following a standoff in south Moorhead the afternoon of Oct. 31.

That incident started when law enforcement officers who had a south Moorhead residence under surveillance approached Hector L. Flores, who at the time was wanted for an active warrant connected to a drug case.

Flores ran inside the house, initiating a standoff of several hours with law enforcement officers, including members of a SWAT team.

Both Hector L. Flores and his brother, Hector O. Flores, who had an active warrant at the time connected to a past conviction for attempted murder, ultimately surrendered peacefully and left the residence without anyone getting hurt.

Hector L. Flores was subsequently charged in Clay County District Court with one count of threats of violence-reckless disregard of risk stemming from the standoff, which also resulted in the seizure of a firearm.

Fargo police Sgt. Shawn Gamradt, who heads the street crimes unit, and Brad Flaa, a supervisory deputy with the U.S. Marshal Service, are calling "Operation Winter Harvest" a success, and Flaa said similar campaigns may happen in the future.

"The operation helped develop relationships that will be permanent," Flaa said.

Of the 26 arrests, 12 involved suspects tied to gun offenses and one involved a suspect tied to an offense involving explosives.

Thirteen of the 26 arrests involved people known to be gang members or affiliated with gangs, according to Gamradt, who said his street crimes unit identifies about 10 new gang members a month in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

He said in many cases the gang affiliations involve what are called hybrid gangs—organizations that have ties to well known gangs such as the Crips, Bloods, Vice Lords and Gangster Disciples.

Gamradt said in larger U.S. cities friction often develops between gangs because of competition for things like drug profits.

The dynamic in the Fargo-Moorhead area is different, according to Gamradt.

"There's no battle for business here, because business is so good," Gamradt said.

Agents from the fugitive task force and the street crimes unit conducted 18 of the campaign's 26 arrests, with the North Dakota Highway Patrol and other agencies responsible for six arrests.

Two of the individuals surrendered themselves to a law enforcement agency, presumably after learning they were being sought, Flaa said.

In addition to the firearm connected to the Moorhead standoff, the operation also resulted in the seizure of $1,683 in cash, two stolen vehicles, about 85 grams of methamphetamine, counterfeit U.S. currency and counterfeiting equipment.

One of the individuals arrested as part of the operation was Tyquan L. Presha, of Fargo, who is charged in Cass County District Court with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Court documents allege Presha provided a firearm that was used in a drive-by shooting in Fargo earlier this year. No one was injured in the drive-by incident.

Another arrest involved Cameron A. Desjarlais, of Fargo, who faces drug and theft charges in Cass County District Court.

According to Fargo police, intensive investigative efforts by a number of agencies determined that Desjarlais was at an address in south Fargo.

When Desjarlais was arrested, he was in possession of significant amounts of meth, cash and a stolen vehicle, according to Fargo police, who said information obtained through the arrest has created leads for additional criminal cases.

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