CDCR staff, at left, joined other local and state agencies to serve search and arrest warrants during a massive anti-gang sweep in Bakersfield.

By Lt. Mike Tuntakit, AA/PIO
Avenal State Prison

CDCR Crisis Response Teams, Investigative Services Unit (ISU) and the transportation team made history on Dec. 12 when they joined in one of the department’s largest mutual aid endeavors.

Four CDCR Crisis Response Teams (CRT), four ISU/IGI teams and the CDCR Transportation Hub from Kern Valley sent resources and personnel to the mutual aid mission. CDCR teams assisted with serving 11 federal search warrants, 28 state search warrants as well as executing 10 federal arrest warrants and 31 state arrest warrants.

The charges range from assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit murder and/or attempted murder, burglary, narcotics trafficking, and possession of firearms and ammunition by prohibited persons for the benefit of the West Side Crips (WSC) criminal enterprise.

The operation resulted in the arrest of 49 individuals, the seizure of 26 firearms, 1,928 grams of methamphetamine, and 32 grams of crack cocaine as a part of a multi-agency state and federal takedown of gang members in Bakersfield.

The arrests are a result of a 10-month investigation that began in March 2017.

“This violent gang has killed innocent people and escalated violence in our Bakersfield neighborhoods,” said Attorney General Becerra in a press release. “(This) 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.”

CDCR partnered with hundreds of law enforcement personnel from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, California Department of Justice Bureau of Investigation, California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Police, K-9 units and a total of 34 SWAT teams with four of those teams comprising CDCR CRTs from Avenal State Prison/Pleasant Valley State Prison, and CSP-Corcoran/Substance Abuse Treatment Facility.

Kern Valley State Prison/North Kern State Prison and California Correctional Institution including the IGI/ISU from each prison sent CRT’s and  two CDCR buses. With the help of CDCR the local police and the teams were able to safely perform the search warrants and arrest warrants for one of the largest operations conducted in Bakersfield, Kern County, to take down one of their major criminal gangs, the WSC.

During one of the warrant services, a SWAT team had multiple shots fired at them, but luckily no officers were injured. The SWAT officers returned gunfire at the suspect located at the residence. There were four people identified to be inside of the home, three of which came outside, while one suspect barricaded himself inside but surrendered shortly after.

Bakersfield Police SWAT Commander Lt. Bobby Woolard was the incident commander and was pleased to have CDCR involved. He sent his thanks to all wardens and would like to continue to have a working relationship.

Lt. Woolard was impressed with CRT/ ISU and CDCR buses. He indicated he’d like to have training in the future to bring the CDCR and the Bakersfield police closer.

“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.”

Command center.