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Friday, 4 July 2008

Hells Angels Santa Rosa clubhouse raided by a SWAT team using an armored vehicle


10:49 |

Santa Rosa clubhouse of the Hells Angels was raided early Wednesday by a SWAT team using an armored vehicle, as part of raids that also hit the Healdsburg home of a suspected gang member and the club's San Francisco headquarters.Investigators sought evidence to document club membership and criminal connections involving Jonathan Joseph Nelson of Healdsburg and Mark Anthony Guardado of San Francisco, both suspects in beatings last spring in Petaluma."We're looking for supporting evidence about who these people are," Petaluma Police Capt. Dave Sears said.
The two men have been charged in connection with an altercation in February outside McNear's Saloon & Dining House in Petaluma. A man was jumped and badly beaten, eve after he lost consciousness, Sears said.The two also were charged in a March beating that injured a man outside Henny Penny's restaurant on the north end of Petaluma Boulevard, Sears said.Nelson and Guardado have pleaded not guilty in both cases, according to court records.The felony charges include allegations the two men acted in participation with a criminal street gang -- allegations that could add prison time if they are convicted.Investigators also sought information bolstering assertions that both men hold or held high-ranking positions in the organization. A Sonoma County sheriff's department attorney identified Nelson as vice president of the Sonoma County chapter and Guardado as president of the San Francisco chapter during court testimony in May.Their attorneys have argued there is no evidence linking them to gang activity. Hells Angels members say they are wrongly linked to criminal conduct, arguing they are a social motorcycle club and not a gang.
Defense attorney Martin Woods, who represents Nelson in the case, on Wednesday cited a federal court of appeals decision ruling it lawful to associate with the Hells Angels."Within Sonoma County itself there have been have been different opinions from different experts on the issue of whether the Hells Angels qualifies as a criminal street gang," Woods said. "It has been my belief that it does not, and that this case we're presently dealing with is where the prosecution is attempting to set some sort of precedent on the issue."Both defendants have filed $5 million claims against Sonoma County for excluding them from the courtroom because they were wearing shirts with Hells Angels insignia.Superior Court Judge Ken Gnoss had prohibited the clothing on the grounds that the symbols are meant to intimidate and threaten.Nelson's Healdsburg home on Oak Leaf Avenue was one of the three locations searched simultaneously beginning at about 5 a.m. Wednesday. Investigators did not say if he was home at the time.Petaluma police served the search warrant there, while Santa Rosa SWAT members raided the Santa Rosa clubhouse on Frazier Avenue.
Two FBI tactical teams conducted the search in San Francisco, where Guardado was arrested on an unrelated charge of alleged drug possession, Sears said.
No arrests were made in Sonoma County, Sears said.At the Santa Rosa clubhouse off Petaluma Hill Road, the black steel door with the club decal had been battered, apparently in authorities' attempts to get in. They ultimately entered through another door.


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