FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A five-month-long operation in Fresno saw the arrest of 43 suspects as part of an effort referred to by Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama as the largest of its kind in recent state history.

The culmination of Operation No Fly Zone was announced Friday afternoon in Fresno.

According to police, the operation began following a rise in the number of shootings and homicides involving specific gangs. Investigators from local agencies, state departments, and the FBI conducted surveillance focused on multiple gang members.

Investigators reveal that the suspects’ alleged crimes involved murder, shootings, illegal narcotics, and human trafficking.

“Operation No Fly Zone is the largest investigative operation ever undertaken in the history of Fresno PD,” said Police Chief Paco Balderrama. “The operation focused on the most violent street gang in Fresno County.”

Officers say that the suspects arrested were linked to at least four murders, 35 shootings, and over 80 other criminal acts. 37 gang members were apprehended on state charges and six more were apprehended on federal charges.

“During the operation, a total of 19 shootings were prevented,” said Chief Balderrama. “Two shootings were planned mass shootings: one on April 2nd, a day before the Sacramento mass shooting, and on April 11th. Both were going to occur here in Fresno.”

Chief Balderrama says one of the mass shootings was expected to take place at a bar in the city but added that neither incident took place due to a strong police presence in the areas which deterred those planning the shooting to carry it out.

Operation No Fly Zone culminated Thursday morning with the assistance of over 200 law enforcement personnel and 25 SWAT teams.

“Yesterday was our Super Bowl, and make no mistake: we won,” said Chief Balderrama. “Fresno County is now a safer place to live after dismantling this criminal organization.”

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer was emotional discussing his experience with the gang’s victims.

“These folks have gotten away with murder for far too long. I’ve spent many a nights as the former police chief, sitting in hospitals, holding hands and praying with the family members who their child has been struck by gunfire and facing the potential loss of life,” said Dyer.

48 guns in total were seized, including four rifles. The weapons were displayed during the announcement at Fresno Police Headquarters.

“Look at all the guns that are here, the individuals that are in custody, I can sleep easier tonight and I know that my friends and my family and other individuals that live and work and recreate in our community, that they will be safer from tonight moving forward,” said Assistant Sheriff John Zanoni.

Prison sentences for these suspects could range from 20 years to life in prison. Of these suspects arrested, Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp says many are repeat offenders. State Attorney General Rob Bonta was also present at Thursday’s announcement and answered questions about light sentences and early releases for these repeat offenders.

“Something that a lot of people don’t understand that we can. When people are let out of prison for youthful offender parole. No matter how many years they’re sentenced to they’re released, and this is the problem that we see, is that they are people who have already been through the system and some of them have just been recently released and they don’t seem to be learning any lessons, so maybe Mr. Bonta would like to address that possibly?” asked Smittcamp.

“Very kind of you for the invitation and very honored to be here again to say thank you to everyone for the incredible collaboration. We were on the law enforcement side; we brought our expertise,” responded Bonta regarding light sentences and early releases.

Smittcamp says there is legislation pending in the state capitol that will increase the number of prison credits that prisoners get.

The majority of Operation No Fly Zone is over, but police did share that five arrest warrants have not been filled.