Dozens arrested in sting operation targeting violent crimes in Fresno area

Jessica Harrington Image
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Dozens arrested in sting operation targeting violent crimes in Fresno
The chief said more than 200 people were arrested on felony and misdemeanor charges during the two-week-long sting operation that included surveillance and compliance checks.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A multi-agency operation has led to hundreds of arrests and more than two dozen guns seized.

For two weeks, officers, agents and analysts used surveillance, apprehension and compliance checks of probation and parolees to target violent offenders and violent street crimes.

Joseph Gonzalez, a known gang member, was pictured among those arrested in "Operation Safe Neighborhoods."

Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama says Gonzalez was wanted for a shooting that happened on May 8 near Chestnut and San Gabriel Avenues that sent a 19-year-old to the hospital.

During the two-week-long operation, Gonzalez was taken into custody at a hotel near Parkway and Dennett Avenue.

Investigators say he was armed.

"He gave up, threw the gun down and that was recovered and I was not surprised that when I looked at it a little closer, it's a ghost gun with no serial number," said Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama.

Gonzalez was just one arrest made.

In total, Chief Balderrama says Operation Safe Neighborhoods led to 115 felony arrests, 173 misdemeanor arrests, more than 200 parole and probation searches and the seizure of 33 illegal firearms.

"We know that prevention, intervention and enforcement work when we do it at the same time," said Fresno Police Deputy Chief Mark Salazar.

Fresno County Probation officials say they use their risk assessments to target individuals who were high risk and out of compliance.

Members of the ATF, U.S. Marshals, State Parole Board, Fresno County District Attorney's Office, Fresno County Sheriff's Office and more took part. They vowed to continue to work together.

"There is going to be more of these to come, so get used to it. Because our goal is to get the numbers down and approve public safety," said Fresno County Assistant Sheriff John Zanoni.

Chief Balderrama says he hopes this represents hope that the community and the county are getting better.

"I can see the light at the end of the tunnel because violent crime is going down, and I believe 2022 is going to be much better than the last two years, which were really bad as far as violent crime and stats," Chief Balderrama said.

The Fresno County District Attorney's office was also part of the operation.

They say they've been working closely to file new cases and keep criminals behind bars.