High Crime Rate at a Fresno Homeless Camp

March 24, 2008 8:07:08 PM PDT
More than two dozen people have been led away in handcuffs during the four month long undercover sting and police say the problems are often not the residents. Fresno police spent countless hours out here making these deals. Much of the drug dealing and sex for sale is from people who live outside these tents who come in just to do business.

Police surveillance video shows 27-year-old Anna Butler making a cash for sex deal. This day she got into the car, not with a client, but with a cop.

"What are you doing to make money? What are you up to?"

We tracked down Anna Monday at California and G Street, the same place where she was picked up last November.

"Are you still using drugs or prostituting? Not necessarily because he helps me pay for my room. Who helps you? My friend."

A spike in crime brought Fresno police to two homeless tent cities in Downtown Fresno. It didn't take long to make one arrest after another. The most notable arrest Olewasami Brown of Oakland who police say was selling rock cocaine in these encampments. Officers also recovered $16 thousand dollars in cash. Police say the criminals are outsiders coming in and using these camps as a cover.

Jerry Dyer, Fresno Police Chief: "Of the people we arrested to our knowledge none of them are truly homeless. These are individuals that are street people that we refer to that are involved in criminal conduct."

As for Anna, she says she too lives somewhere else, this is just a place she just comes to do business. She's been on the streets since she was 18.

"How did you end up like this Anna?"

"Long story. Maybe my innocence was stolen from me, you know over a period of time. But when I came out here I was really naive and then you kind of get stuck here because of the drugs and bad addictions that don't get you nowhere."

Fresno Mayor Alan Autry says he hopes the arrests are an incentive for those taken into custody to get the help they need. Anna says she wants help for her addiction but has not yet gone to get it.


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