Fresno Police Chief Suspends Major Narcotics Unit

February 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The Fresno Police Department's Narcotics Unit has been shut down as new details are revealed in the auto theft investigation. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer temporarily suspended operations of the narcotics unit Wednesday --- less than one week after two of his narcotics officers were charged with auto theft. We've learned more about a third officer charged in connection with the case.A judge just signed an arrest warrant for Fresno Police Officer Robert Eddings. Chief Dyer said he had to stop the operations of the major narcotics unit while the CHP completes an investigation that may lead to more Fresno officers arrested.

Chief Dyer apologized for three of his officers now facing criminal charges. Officers Paul Cervantez and Hector Becerra bailed out of jail last week. They are accused of misusing a confidential informant in order to lure a suspected drug dealer and steal his car.

An arrest warrant reveals new details about the investigation into Eddings. He's been charged with providing false information to a CHP officer. The warrant claims Eddings was rebuilding a salvaged truck and asked a body shop clerk to fabricate a receipt for auto parts in order to pass a salvage vehicle inspection.

A CHP officer declined to discuss specifics about the investigation, but he said problems only exist with a few officers. Jim Abrams with the California Highway Patrol said, "We've got a couple of players who may not be playing in the lines and we've investigated and we continue to investigate."

In addition to suspending the major narcotics unit, Dyer is also requesting an outside audit. Dyer said, "We are doing that for the purpose to make sure our policies ? procedures are consistent with best practices of other narcotic units across the nation."

People close to this investigation say more arrests could be coming. The three officers are on paid administrative leave. A fourth officer is on modified duty pending the outcome of this investigation. We also checked with the district attorney's office, and they've already had to dismiss some cases because of the turmoil at the office.

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