Gang activity in Bakersfield is down 30 percent compared to last year. And while most other gangs are keeping quiet, the FBI says the East Side Crips are continuing business as usual, making them prime target for law enforcement.
"We will come down hard and I guarantee you we will come at you very quickly," FBI special agent Herbert Brown.
And that's what the Department of Justice did Friday morning. More than 100 federal, state and local officers fanned out throughout East Bakersfield at the crack of dawn targeting East Side Crips gang members, their associates and anyone supplying guns or drugs to the gang.
By 10 a.m, more than 21 people were arrested for 17 federal indictiments stemming from drug and firearms trafficking.
"The investigation involved numerous undercover purchases of crack cocaine from members of this gang," said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner.
The FBI says the East Side Crips were targeted becuase of their resistance to a community and law enforcement program that reaches out to gangs.
"To talk to them about getting out of the gang lifestyle and offer them assistance like job training and remedial education opportunites," said Wagner.
While other gangs accepted the offer, the East Side Crips did not.
"By continuing to engage in drive by shootings burglaries and other violent conduct, the East Side Crips rejected the offer. They earned the response law enforcement gave," said Wagner.
The goal of the operation was to make gangs face federal prosecution and federal charges. If convicted gang members and their associates will have harsher sentences compared to those at the local level.
"For most of these individuals we're looking at sentences in the 5-10 year range. Of which they will serve 95 percent of that time in federal prison," said Wagner.
And they'll be imprisoned out of state.
"They're not going to be spending time with their fellow gang members, they're not going to be spending time in areas close to where they can stay in communication with fellow gang members," said Wagner.
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