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.
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.”