Jury convicts Roberto Saldana, 28, of three violent crimes between 2008 and 2016
LINDSAY – A Lindsay gang member with a history of violence faces life in prison following a conviction that combined three separate cases against him. On Oct. 13, a Tulare County jury convicted Roberto Saldana, 28, of Lindsay, of murder, attempted murder, weapons possession, conspiracy, and other gang crimes. The trial was a consolidation of three cases consisting of crimes spanning from 2008 to 2016.
On July 20, 2008, Saldana strangled and stabbed a perceived rival gang member in Lindsay after gang slurs were exchanged. Saldana was found guilty of second-degree murder with the special allegation that the crime was committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang and that a deadly weapon was used. The Lindsay Police Department was the investigating agency. In this case, Saldana faces 16 years to life in prison.
On August 24 to 25, 2015, Saldana and other gang members were en route to commit a series of home invasion robberies in Visalia when they were arrested as part of Operation Red Sol, a California Department of Justice wiretap operation against Norteno gang members. In August and September of 2015, local law enforcement and the California Department of Justice were conducting a large scale wiretap operation targeting the Tulare County Norteno criminal street gang. The operation culminated on Oct. 1, 2015 with the sweeping arrest of 81 Norteno gang members involved more than 300 officers from Valley law enforcement agencies working jointly as the Tulare Area Regional Gang Enforcement Team (TARGET) task force.
Saldana was found guilty of conspiracy to commit home invasion robbery, criminal gang conspiracy to commit home invasion robbery, attempted home invasion robbery, and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. The California Department of Justice, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, and the Visalia Police Department were the investigating agencies. In this case, Saldana faces 15 years to life in prison.
On July 27, 2016, while in custody at the Bob Wiley Detention Facility, Saldana and other gang members attacked another inmate who was exiting the shower, beating and stabbing him multiple times. Saldana was found guilty of attempted premeditated murder with the special allegation that the crime was for the benefit of a criminal street gang and that a deadly weapon was used, criminal street gang conspiracy to commit murder, and assault with a deadly weapon with gang, great bodily injury, and use of a deadly weapon special allegations. The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office was the investigating agency. In this case, Saldana faces 25 years to life in prison. Saldana has a prior felony conviction for possession of a sawed-off shotgun in 2013. He was on probation for this case when he was arrested as part of Operation Red Sol.
Over 50 of 81 charged in the Red Sol case have been convicted of or have pleaded to a variety of conspiracy, robbery, drug, and weapons charges. Seven defendants were remanded in to federal custody for prosecution. In December
2016, a criminal grand jury indicted 11 of the remaining defendants on numerous charges, including multiple murders. The 400-page indictment covers 65 felony charges against 11 defendants named in the October 2015 complaint. The charges include murder, conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, home invasion robbery, possession and transportation of controlled substances for purposes of sales, extortion, grand theft and arson.
Judge Michael Sheltzer will sentence Saldana on Nov. 17, 2017, in Department 17 of Tulare County Superior Court.