A small memorial of candles and flowers sit under a portion of yellow crime scene tape circling the Goshen home where six people were gunned down this month.
A teddy bear lays nearby with a cross.
The Parraz family was massacred nearly two weeks ago. The victims included a 16-year-old girl and her 10-month baby boy. The mother and child were shot, execution style.
The suspects are believed to have connections with a drug cartel or high-ranking street gang. Deputies have not released which organization is behind the deaths, but have said they know more than they can released to the public.
"This was a cartel-like execution. We are not eliminating the idea that the cartel was involved," Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said. "But we are looking at all avenues. We are looking at every fact. We will not give up until we find these monsters."
Although gang violence is not uncommon in Tulare County, the level of violence displayed by the shooters shocked the community. It's also left many wondering how this sleepy Central Valley town became the location of a now notorious mass murder.
The quiet life
Some 33,000 violent street gangs, motorcycle gangs, and prison gangs are criminally active in the U.S. today, according to the FBI. Despite their differences, all gangs use violence to control neighborhoods so they can continue making money selling drugs, people, or illegal firearms.
Gangs, with membership in the hundreds of thousands, have been in California for decades, operating primarily from within the state's prison system.
Over time, organized street gangs moved into rural parts of California.
"What we've seen is that gangs don't typically want to be identified by law enforcement," Boudreaux said. "They live quietly and peacefully within a quiet community; never being noticed until something tragic happens."
When violence erupts in a small community residents sometimes ask, "where did this gang come from?"
"They've infiltrated the community and lived there making money under the protection of living out in the open," Boudreaux said.
The Norteños street gangs of the Central Valley are linked to Nuestra Familia, a criminal gang run out of Pelican Bay State Prison. That gang has been the target of multiple raids in Tulare County, mostly surrounding its powerful drug trade and violent small street gangs.
Monterey County is the birthplace of Nuestra Familia.
While Norteños outnumber Sureños in Tulare County, both have highly organized leadership that control the gangs' thousands of local members.
The Mexican Mafia controls roughly 50,000 to 75,000 California Sureños gang members and associates.
The clashes come when southerners, Sureños, fight for pieces of a city or town, police said.
"Tulare County was traditionally a Norteños county. Over the past 20 plus years, Sureños have slowly migrated to Tulare County to work in the farming industry and settle down with their families," deputies said during a 2018 raid on gangs. "This has caused a constant battle for turf between the Norteños and Sureños. As a result, numerous violent crimes have been committed to gain the territory and reputation of the 'baddest' gangs."
Unlike the Norteños, though, the Mexican Mafia doesn't have a hard set of rules and regulations. Instead, the gang expects older members to educate younger members, who then teach new recruits on the streets and in schools.
Identified by the number 13 and the color blue, the Mexican Mafia was started in the 1950s to protect themselves from other prison gangs, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
With at least three commanders calling the shots from prison, captains and lieutenants relay orders to the streets. The deaths in Goshen were likely ordered by leadership following the drug raid a week before the massacre. Aligned with one of the largest prison gangs in history, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Sureños have strong links to the drug cartels in Mexico, according to the DOJ.
Like Norteños, the gang will steal to make money; however, with stronger ties to Mexico, the gang also relies more on drug extortion and distribution in communities.
While the Mexican Mafia hasn't been publicly linked to the Goshen massacre, its influence here has only grown stronger recently as operations have weakened Norteños and Nuestra Familia.
In 2012, Jimmy "Old Man" Soto, 77, was arrested in Visalia. Soto's one of six alleged Mexican Mafia members targeted in the 2012 gang raid. According to court papers, Soto overtook drug and cash shipments between Mexico and the U.S. in May 2012.
Before that, he was held in Pelican Bay State Prison, one of just three penitentiaries in the country known for its high population of Mexican Mafia members. Others include federal prisons in Florence, Colo., and Lewisburg, Pa.
Similar busts aim at disrupting street gangs, which benefit from the drug money and are controlled by the Mexican Mafia, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"By combining law enforcement resources, we were able to curtail their ability to build alliances and prevent their violence from spreading further into our communities," said Steven Bogdalek, ATF special agent in charge of the Los Angeles field division at the time.
Soto remains behind bars, but that doesn't mean someone didn't take his place in Tulare County.
In 2014, Jose Martinez - a notorious drug cartel hitman - was convicted of murder and sentenced to 50 years in prison by an Alabama jury. He was later transferred to Tulare County to stand trial.
With the help of federal law enforcement, Tulare County sheriff's detectives booked Martinez on suspicion of slayings in Tulare, Kern and Santa Barbara counties.
In 2015, Tulare County prosecutors tried the case involving three counties with multiple murders spanning decades. Six took place in Tulare County.
Tulare County took the lead with the help of Kern and Santa Barbara counties. Together, the agencies filed one large case against the cartel hitman.
After pleading guilty to killing nine people in California, Martinez was then sent to Florida where he faced two murder charges.
He faces the death penalty in Florida.
Arrests and prosecutions slow the cartel, but they don't eradicate its presence. The cartel continues to operate in Tulare County, Boudreaux said.
The Goshen shooting has captured the attention of people across the U.S. and beyond. The level of violence is uncommon in Tulare County and the state, Boudreaux said.
"I have not seen the very clear assassination-style to a teenage mother," he said. "....it's shocking that we live in a community where this type of violence exists."
Around 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 16, gunshots erupted in the typically quiet neighborhood of Harvard Road. It was initially believed to be a shooting in progress because of the amount of gunfire heard.
When deputies arrived, they found two victims outside and a third near the doorway of the Goshen home. One victim was still alive when deputies arrived and was rushed to the hospital after CPR was performed. However, he later died.
Deputies found six bodies inside and outside of the home. The victims are believed to be family.
Rosa Parraz, 72
Alissa Parraz, 16
Nycholas Parraz, 10 months
Marcos Parraz, 19
Eladio Parraz Jr., 52
Jennifer Analla, 50
There is a history of gang and drug activity at the home, but not everyone who lived there were gang members or drug users, Boudreaux said.
A drug search warrant had been served at the home just a week prior, following a compliance check. Marijuana, methamphetamine, money and guns were taken from the home. Eladio Parraz, who was a convicted felon, was arrested. He bailed out four days later.
It remains unknown what triggered the extreme violence or whether the suspects are still in the area. The area surrounding the home remains closed.
"If it were me, I wouldn't be anywhere near here," Boudreaux said. "But then again, maybe the best hiding place is where you wouldn't think to look."
A $25,000 reward is available for information that leads to the capture of the Goshen massacre suspects.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Tulare County Sheriff's Department at (559) 733-6218 or they can remain anonymous by calling or texting (559) 725-4194 or through email at email@example.com.
Get to know the gangs
Identifiers of the Norteños gang (red):
X4, XIV, 14. N, is the 14th letter of the alphabet and stands for Norteños.
San Francisco, SF and the 49ers football team. SF stands for Sweet Fourteen.
A cloth cross with a red dot in the middle.
Pink is often worn by the gang's female members.
Four dots tattooed on a person's knuckles.
The Raiders. The black and silver team colors stand for strength. The team also has 14 letters in the name.
All black shirts worn with red or khaki.
Soldado, or soldier. A term that originated in Pelican Bay State Prison.
Red shoelaces or a red Nike Swoosh
Identifiers of the Sureño gang (blue):
X3, XIII, 13, the 13th letter of the alphabet, M, pays homage to the Mexican Mafia.
Sur, short for Sureño.
Los Angeles Dodgers and Dallas Cowboys.
A blue dot in the middle of a cloth cross.
White socks with three blue stripes.
Three dots tattooed on the knuckles of a person.
All white shirts.
Light blue can be worn by female members.
Brown Pride moniker
This article originally appeared on Visalia Times-Delta: Street gangs, cartels strong in Tulare County