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Police collar 6 in home invasion
Armed Stockton gang members storm pot plantation
This residence off West Yosemite Avenue was the scene Thursday night of an armed home invasion. - photo by HIME ROMERO

LATHROP — Seven men armed with handguns stormed a home west of McKinley Avenue in the 3500 block of West Yosemite Avenue Thursday night with their guns drawn in an apparent attempt to steal from an alleged marijuana plantation behind a rural Lathrop home.

San Joaquin County deputies indicated the men were all over 18 and belonged to the East Side Stockton Gang.

Sheriff’s spokesman Les Garcia said officers responded from the Manteca Police Department and the California Highway Patrol to assist deputies in rounding up the fleeing suspects who had run on foot from the residence.  Six of the suspects were finally arrested and one was believed to still be at-large at 10 p.m. Thursday.

Garcia said there were several family members in the home at the time of the armed robbery invasion at 6:46 p.m.  One family member was tied up by the suspects, he said.

The CHP helicopter was called to the scene and circled the area with its high intensity search light flooding the fields as officers with police canines from Manteca, the Sheriff’s Department and the CHP sought out the gunmen running through the back yards,  open farm land and across the 120 Bypass.

Manteca officers tracked four of the men and were holding them at gunpoint in the 1100 block of Livorno Court while CHP officers located other suspects all wearing white shirts and running southbound across Highway 120 after jumping fences at Bronzan Road and South McKinley Avenue.

Manteca canine officer Bob Anderson sent his patrol dog “Hoss” after one of the gunmen who refused to stop and was running toward a fence near the gated Oakwood Shores community housing development where they had located the other three.

The Manteca contingent included Sgt. Mike Sexon, Anderson, and officers George Crowley and Jason Downs.  Police also scoured back yards of the rural homes in the area searching for discarded weapons.

The only injuries incurred were from the pursuing police canines that got their suspects when the men reportedly refused to respond to the commands of officers.  Manteca’s “Hoss” had bitten one in the back who was later treated for his injury.

Garcia said that Child Protective Services was called to place the child in protective custody since he had been exposed to the marijuana cultivation at the home.  The ages of the suspects were unknown at press timeit was not known whether they were taken to county jail or to juvenile hall.

The Sheriff’s spokesman said the family members claimed to possess a Proposition 215 marijuana card that allowed them to cultivate the plants behind their residence.  Sheriff’s deputies will be conducting a further investigation on Friday to determine if that is actually the case.