Top Dog Nabbed in Fresno Gang Sweep

November 25, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Fresno police investigators said an anti-gang sweep Thursday resulted in the take-down of an especially violent cell within the Bulldog gang.Investigators with the multi-agency "Operation Bulldog" said the 12 people they arrested are among the worst of the worst criminals in Fresno County.

At the top is a shot caller blamed for brainwashing teenagers and committing at least three murders, including one that got a lot of attention ten years ago.

When Christopher Chavez came out of his home with his hands up, police said they closed the book on a long chapter of violent crime and drug dealing.

Chavez was the big catch in a sweep that police said netted 12 members of a violent criminal network, the shot caller who recruited young gang members.

"Chavez was determined to frequently use juveniles to further some of the gang activity which included selling drugs as well as selling firearms," said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

The sweep was part of Phase Two of "Operation Bulldog", designed to get to the leaders of Fresno's biggest gang.

"These are individuals who often think of themselves as untouchables in the fact that they avoid arrest or avoid prosecution even though they're deeply involved in criminal activity," said Chief Dyer.

Chavez has been close to untouchable in the past. In 1999, Clovis police arrested him for murder. They claim he and a friend killed a transvestite when they found out his real gender, then set fire to his apartment to cover up evidence.

Chavez went to jail, but the charges were dropped.

Ten years later, Fresno police are accusing him of two more murders and locking him up again. "It is good to know that he's not able to get away with murder," said Chief Dyer. "He won't get away with murder."

Police found two assault rifles, bulletproof vests, and young children sleeping in the same rooms as pot plants during Thursday's sweep.

But forensic psychologists said finding someone like Chavez could be the most important discovery.

"There are replacements that are often waiting in the wings to get their moment," said Dr. Julie Olson, a forensic psychologist at Alliant International University. "However, any time you take one of the instigators of violence off the streets, it helps reduce overall violence."

Investigators think evidence they collected in Thursday's bust could link Chavez to the 1999 murder.

Since "Operation Bulldog" started three years ago, police said they've arrested more than 11,800 gang members, many of them more than once.

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