Ten Bakersfield Gang Members And Associates Indicted
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Ten defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury today following a multi-agency operation in Bakersfield on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
After a 10-month investigation that began in March 2017, more than 35 members and associates of the West Side Crips (WSC), a local criminal street gang, were arrested this week 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 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 supporting the criminal complaint 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.
These Bakersfield residents were indicted today: Tommie Thomas, 35, charged with distribution of methamphetamine; William Thomas, 35, charged with distribution of crack cocaine; Danny Willis, 33, charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm; Gary Pierson, 36, charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm; Ladaireus Jones, 24, charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm; Bernard Warren, 18, charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm; Manuel Cruz III, 37, charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence; Luis Fernandez, 26, charged with distribution of methamphetamine; Myron Dewberry, 44, charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm; and Bryshanique Allen, 21, charged with money laundering.
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. The 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 U.S. Attorneys Angela Scott and Vincenza Rabenn are prosecuting the case.
More than 300 law enforcement personnel from over 20 law enforcement agencies participated in the operation. In addition to the investigating agencies, the following agencies participated in the 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.
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.
If convicted of distribution of methamphetamine, the defendants face a statutory sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a $10 million fine. The maximum statutory penalty for distribution of crack cocaine is 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The maximum statutory penalty for being a felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to commit money laundering is 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.