Fresno Drug Team Back on Duty

August 28, 2009 7:08:02 PM PDT
Fresno Police plan to bring back a unit- once plagued with criminal allegations. On Friday, the police chief announced the major narcotics unit will return to the streets on August 31. Chief Jerry Dyer promises the new narcotics team will be better and more professional. Problems started at the beginning of this year when two undercover officers were arrested. Dyer said, "The audit found the department's current drug enforcement manuals and guidelines were of the highest quality." Dyer announced results of an audit that reviewed his undercover narcotics team. The group was disbanded after the arrest of Officers Paul Cervantes and Hector Becerra in January. Investigators accused both men of stealing a car from suspected drug dealer Humberto Quintero and giving the car to a paid informant. Both officers were eventually cleared of the charges, but questions remained about their conduct.

Auditors made recommendations to restore credibility. Dyer says all narcotics officers will undergo yearly, mandatory drug testing. New limits for confidential informants-they will stay with the department for less than 5 years. Officers will be rotated from the team on a regular basis. Dyer said, "There is a balance that has to occur when we take into consideration experience within an individual unit and the need to rotate people so we don't have stagnation."

Defense Attorney Dan Martin represents Humberto Quintero. Martin said, "I think it certainly supports our contention that the informants were mismanaged." Martin took on the department after he claimed Cervantes and Becerra stole Quintero's car. Martin expressed serious concern about drug officers breaking the law. Martin said, "I'm grateful that the Fresno Police Department is looking at it. And they've identified these problems. I just feel validated that they've agreed with me."

The drug team returns to the streets on August 31. Dyer promises the men and women will better protect neighborhoods.

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