Operation Ceasefire gang crackdown in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

"The whole process is just notifying the gangsters, letting them know we know who they are and we're not going to tolerate the ongoing violence," said Fresno Police Sgt. Mike Smith.

Police say there have already been more than 50 gang-related shootings this year and Ceasefire has proven successful in cracking down over the last nine months.

Officers make contact with large numbers of current and former gang members, and stop any illegal activity.

One house on Eden in southwest Fresno wasn't even one of the places police intended to go, but inside they found one of the guys they were looking for as well as a stash of narcotics.

Officers arrested two men at the home -- a father and son both suspected of gang ties. The crack cocaine found in the house could lead to felony charges for both men.

Before launching Operation Ceasefire last July, Fresno police investigated 31 murders in 2010. There was a two-month lull with no murders after that, and only 13 more murders all year.

As officers explained to one parolee they didn't arrest, a recent increase in violence prompted the latest Ceasefire ground operation.

"All the gang shootings back and forth, that's putting pressure on us to do these parole searches," Sgt. Smith told the man.

The last critical piece of Operation Ceasefire is offering gang members help in putting down their guns and finding work.

Officers say not a lot of the guys take them up on the offer, but many of the parolees realize they do need a job.

"If I could get a way out and talk to one youngster, I'm willing to do that too, you know, because I don't want him to go through what I went through and what I'm still going through," said parolee Darnell Senegal after police let him go.

If the violence doesn't slow down, police will at least have a record of potential suspects and the paperwork allowing prosecutors to file the kind of charges that could achieve a ceasefire through the courts.

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