Two of 17 Sikhs arrested in California sought in murder cases in India: U.S Police

The two Sikhs who are facing murder charges in India are Pavittar Singh and Husandeep Singh, according to a spokesperson of the California Attorney General.

Published - April 20, 2023 03:35 pm IST - Washington

Two of the 17 Sikhs arrested in California over the weekend from two warring criminal gangs are facing murder charges in several cases in India, while another two are sought in other criminal cases, U.S officials said, stressing that they have prevented a major mass casualty incident with their actions.

The two Sikhs who are facing murder charges in India are Pavittar Singh and Husandeep Singh, according to a spokesperson of the California Attorney General. While their nationality has not been disclosed so far, it is believed that they are still Indian citizens and have a pending asylum application.

A major mass casualty was prevented when local and federal law enforcement agencies in a series of raids arrested 17 Sikh men from various cities in northern California, mostly in and around the historic Yuba City, which has a predominant Sikh population, from two rival Sikh criminal syndicates.

The two rival gangs are called ‘Minta Group’ and the ‘AK47 group.’ The leader of the first group is Minta. Each of the two gangs has at least 30 members.

To the surprise of even the law enforcement agencies, the group members were found to have several dangerous firearms when they were arrested.

“During the investigation, 41 firearms were seized. Those firearms included AR15s, AK-47s, handguns, and at least one machine gun,” Jennifer Dupre, the District Attorney of Sutter County said.

Two of those arrested from San Joaquin County - Dharmvir Singh alias Minta and Jobanjit Singh - were stopped on their way to Manteca, where they were allegedly going to commit a homicide, with pistols, large capacity magazines, and fully automatic weapons on them.

Ms. Dupre said law enforcement was able to stop two vehicles before they could arrive at a Sikh parade in Sacramento over the weekend.

“While a shooting did occur at the temple, we were able to stop a mass casualty incident. If those weapons had gotten into the parade, it could have been a blood bath,” Ms. Dupre said.

California's Attorney General Rob Bonta said during the investigation, they prevented at least two additional shootings from happening. “Because of this operation future gun violence, future crime, future harm has been prevented,” he said. The multi-agency and multi-county investigation was called “Operation Broken Sword.”

“During the 2018 Sikh Parade here in Yuba City, there was an attack, a sword attack and the victim was being cut with swords, and he was also being beaten. And one of the swords broke due to the violence of that meeting. So that became the name of this operation, Operation Broken Sword,” Ms. Dupre said, adding, they also located some narcotics, and also child porn material, from the arrests.

The shooting at a gurdwara in Sacramento last month accelerated the process of investigations.

“Well, the fact that the parade was going to occur ramped up the investigation. Our goal was to try to keep that violence-free. It wasn't completely violence-free, but as I stated, we 100 per cent believe we did prevent a mass casualty incident with our actions and the phenomenal work of law enforcement,” she said.

Ms. Dupre told PTI that following the arrests of these two criminal syndicates the feedback from the community is “very positive” and the law enforcement agencies are being applauded for preventing any further mass shootings.

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