Operation Fraud Street Mafia Results Announced: Nine Arrested for Drug Trafficking and Committing More Than $550 Million in Attempted Tax Fraud
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Today, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bakersfield Police Department, the United States Attorney’s Office, the California Department of Justice, the California Highway Patrol, and the Kern County District Attorney’s Office announced the result of a multi-agency operation in Bakersfield that resulted in the arrest of more than 35 members and associates of the West Side Crips (WSC), a local criminal street gang on federal and state charges including burglary, illegal gun possession, drug sales, and murder. State and federal law enforcement teams also executed more than 30 residential search warrants.
The arrests are a result of a 10-month investigation that began in March 2017. Federal agents drafted a 200-page affidavit in support of federal complaints and search warrants that details several WSC members’ alleged crimes. The alleged crimes presented in the federal and state cases include weapons violations, unlawful possession of a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, money laundering, methamphetamine sales, crack cocaine sales, opiate sales, attempted murder and murder. The affidavit also details WSC members’ plan to shoot into a crowd of approximately 200 people, including rival gang members, at a local park in early October 2017. Their plan was thwarted by law enforcement as a result of this investigation. A listing of the individuals arrested and the specific charges they face is attached to this release. The charges brought today are allegations — all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
U.S. Attorney Talbert stated: “This operation is another example of how my office has worked closely with our state, local and federal law enforcement partners to combat violent criminal street gangs and their associates. As part of our Project Safe Neighborhood initiative, we are committed to collaborating with these partners to hold accountable those who make our communities unsafe.”
Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin stated, “This gang has victimized our city through a system of murder and intimidation. We are using the resources of our city, county, state and federal authorities to stop senseless acts of gun violence that are traumatizing and killing our city’s children. This is the enforcement piece to the department’s community-wide approach to addressing gang violence. “
“Violent gangs threaten the safety and well-being of entire communities, blighting the neighborhoods they dwell in and placing lives of innocent bystanders at risk, “ said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “The FBI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to identify, disrupt, and dismantle gangs to protect the public. We also rely on our community relationships in the effort to remove violent gangs from neighborhoods to ensure our region and families have an opportunity to thrive.”
“My office remains dedicated to working with all law enforcement agencies to successfully solve and prosecute the perpetrators of these violent crimes, “ said Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green.
"This violent gang has killed innocent people and escalated violence in our Bakersfield neighborhoods. Today's successful takedown shows that when local, state and federal law enforcement authorities work together to combat violence, we can improve our communities. We are committed to making our neighborhoods safer by prosecuting street gangs to the fullest extent of the law," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, California Department of Justice, California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Police Department, and Kern County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Angela Scott and Vincenza Rabenn are prosecuting the case.
More than 300 law enforcement personnel from over 20 law enforcement agencies participated in today’s operation. In addition to the investigating agencies the following agencies participated in today’s arrests and searches: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), United States Marshals Service, U.S. National Guard, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms, Fresno Methamphetamine Task Force (FMTF), Merced Area Gang Narcotic Enforcement Team (MAGNET), Madera Narcotic Enforcement Team (MADNET), Tulare Area Regional Gang Enforcement Team (TARGET), Kern County Probation Department, Kern County Sheriff’s Department, Kings County Sheriff’s Office, Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, and Coalinga Police Department.
Federal defendants are as follows and are all residents of Bakersfield:
Tommie Thomas, 35, distribution of methamphetamine; William Thomas, 35, distribution of crack cocaine; Danny Willis, 33, felon in possession of a firearm; Gary Pierson, 36, felon in possession of a firearm; Ladaireus Jones, 24, felon in possession of a firearm; Bernard Warren, 18, felon in possession of a firearm; Manuel Cruz III, 37, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana; Luis Fernandez, 26, distribution of methamphetamine; Myron Dewberry, 44, felon in possession of a firearm; and Bryshanique Allen, 21, money laundering.
This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF Program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.
The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.