A Reedley gang member is the first to be convicted by a jury in a gang sweep that became the largest criminal filing in Tulare County history, said Tulare District Attorney Tim Ward.
Pedro Lopez, 35, was convicted Friday of several gang crimes, including conspiring and attempting to commit home invasions, after a large scale wiretap operation in Visalia, said Ward.
Operation Red Sol gang sweep occurred in late August 2015. Authorities discovered that the Tulare County Norteño gang was planning multiple home invasion robberies. Lopez, along with other gang members, led police on a high speed chase after they attempted to commit the crimes. The pursuit came to an end after a foot chase through an east Visalia neighborhood, Ward said.
Prior to Lopez’s conviction, 58 of 81 charged defendants had pleaded to various conspiracy, robbery, drug and weapons charges. “Lopez’s conviction is the first jury trial conviction of a defendant charged in the case,” Ward said.
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Lopez was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit home invasion robbery, one count of criminal street gang conspiracy, one count of attempted home invasion robbery, one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of being a felon in possession of ammunition. Due to previous felonies, such as gang, prior strike, prior serious felony and prior prison admissions, each count has been enhanced.
Lopez will be sentenced March 24 in Tulare County Superior Court. Lopez faces in excess of 70 years to life in state prison.