Local News

Thursday, Jan 08 2009 08:21 PM

Cops stage pre-dawn raid on Crips gangs

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    By Henry A. Barrios

    Henry A. Barrios / The Californian Several police agencies and members of the Kern County District Attorney's office make plans for a early morning round up of gang leaders in Bakersfield Thursday morning.

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    By Henry A. Barrios

    Henry A. Barrios / The Californian California State parole agent Eric Martinez, left, briefs Kern County D.A. Ed Jagels, center, and D.A. Investigator Julie Gaines before a team of officers look for a gang member during a sweep of gang members in Bakersfield in early 2009.

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  3. 3 of 6

    By Henry A. Barrios

    Henry A. Barrios / The Californian The gang round up team comes up empty handed when it is found out the gang member no longer lives at the address on Belle Terrace.

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  4. 4 of 6

    By Henry A. Barrios

    Henry A. Barrios / The Californian Ernest Cartwright is taken into custody by Senior Deputy Scott Lopez, right, of the Kern County Sheriff's Department Gang Unit during a gang round up Thursday morning. At left is Kern County D.A. Investigator Julie Gaines.

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  5. 5 of 6

    By Henry A. Barrios

    Henry A. Barrios / The Californian Ernest Cartwright is taken into custody by Senior Deputy Scott Lopez, right, of the Kern County Sheriff's Department Gang Unit during a gang round up Thursday morning. At left is Kern County D.A. Investigator Julie Gaines.

    click to expand click to collapse
  6. 6 of 6

    By Henry A. Barrios

    Henry A. Barrios / The Californian A gang member is taken into custody during an early Thursday morning gang sweep in Bakersfield.

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BY STEVE E. SWENSON , Californian staff writersswenson@bakersfield.com

The toughest gangs in Bakersfield were probably hunkered down Thursday, their criminal plans on hold, thanks to a pre-dawn raid by dozens of officers.

The heavily armed officers, wearing flak jackets, swooped down on homes associated with gang members with orders to arrest those they found — and send a message.

Related Info

How does Bakersfield’s gang problem compare with major cities?

Last year Los Angeles had more than one and a half times as many gang homicide as Bakersfield, per person. Gang members down there appear to be much more trigger happy: Los Angeles has nearly four times as many gang shootings as Bakersfield in 2008, per person.

Gang crimes

Homicides: 6 in 2007, 8 in 2008

Shootings: 56 in 2007, 57 in 2008.

Police do not keep records on other crimes committed by gangs, such as burglaries, car thefts and narcotics offenses.

Main gangs in Bakersfield:

Black gangs — Eastside Crips, Westside Crips, Country Boy Crips, Bloods

Hispanic gangs — Colonia Bakers, Varrio Bakers, Southside Bakers, Loma Bakers, Okie Bakers.

There are about 6,850 total gang members and associates in Bakersfield.

Targets arrested and alleged gang affiliations:

Sudie Mae Smith, 42, Eastside Crips, misdemeanor bench warrant.

Tommy Pernell Davidson, 42, Eastside Crips, Fish and Game warrant.

Ernest Cartwright, 27, Westside Crips, Bench warrant.

Anthony Peoples, 21, a Bloods member arrested Wednesday by police.

Three others not on the list also arrested

Source: Bakersfield police and District Attorney staff

Earlier that morning District Attorney Ed Jagels had issued the marching orders, standing in front of some 60 police, sheriff, parole, probation and district attorney officers.

“We want them thinking about what you’re going to do next, rather than what they want to do next.”

The main targets were 19 “shot callers,” top level gang members that are part of a larger list created by Jagels last year. The list includes 105 of “the most dangerous guys” in local gangs, prosecutors say.

The county’s top prosecutor told the officers to spread the word about the list. “We want to get the message across that if you make the target list, you are going to go to jail or prison,” Jagels said.

By the end of the raids, however, only three of the 19 shot callers targeted were in handcuffs. Officers said the raids will still help squash gang activity, officers said.

“They will shut down illegal operations until they think it’s safe,” Bakersfield homicide Sgt. Joe Aldana said. “Especially violent crime.”

“Keeping pressure on them has tremendous value,” Jagels said.

The gangs singled out for enforcement Thursday were the Eastside Crips — “by far the biggest gang in the city” Aldana said — and it’s rivals, the Country Boy and Westside Crips, and the Bloods.

Though they operate primarily in southeast Bakersfield, officers went to homes in southwest Bakersfield where they were believed to have been living with their mothers or girlfriends. Police estimate there are 6,850 gang members or associates in the Bakersfield area.

Police won’t say exactly how many members each group has, but black gangs (Crips and Bloods) make up 30 to 35 percent of the gang population. Hispanic gangs make up 40 to 50 percent and white gangs are about 10 to 12 percent. The remaining 3 percent are Asian gangs or others, police reported.

Out of them all, the Crips are the busiest of the lot when it comes to drugs and violent crime, officers said.

One target who got some special attention Thursday was a no bail Fish and Game warrant for Tommy Pernell Davidson, a 42-year-old Eastside Crips member.

He was caught Thursday for fishing without a license. The no bail warrant stemmed from his failure to go to his arraignment and a history of assault convictions, records show.

One of the officers said, “Let it be known that if your a gang member and you violate Fish and Game laws, we’re going to get you.”

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