Bonta Taunt-a: Major Fresno gang bust offers peek into Calif. Attorney General battle

A Fresno-based crackdown netted the arrest of 47 gang members and uncorked tensions in a fight to be California’s top cop.

A multi-agency gang crackdown by the U.S. Department of Justice, California Department of Justice, Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Fresno Police Department, and Fresno County District Attorney’s Office netted an historic 47 felony arrests of gang affiliates

The operation, dubbed Operation No Fly Zone, unraveled a massive gang dabbling in crimes from homicide to human trafficking.


The bust announcement on Friday brought virtually every major player in California law enforcement to the Fresno Police Department.

That included California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a figure with little love among San Joaquin Valley law enforcement officials, particularly with as he seeks election for a full term in November.

Friday, Bonta celebrated the collaborative bust on a major gang.

“Today, Fresno is safer thanks to collaboration, determination, and swift action,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “No family should ever have to worry about drive-bys or other forms of gun violence in the neighborhoods where their children live and play. As a result of this joint law enforcement effort, we’re taking guns off the street and putting suspected gang members and their associates behind bars. Together, we’re putting public safety first.”

Bonta, a noted criminal justice reformer, found himself the subject of a backhanded compliment by Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp.

Smittcamp has been an ardent supporter of a leading challenger to Bonta, Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.

“The politicians who pretend to care about law and order with sound bites when tragedies occur or show up to say they care about victims during election season, are the ones who continue to support the weakened laws passed by the people who call themselves criminal justice reformers. They haven’t reformed anything,” Smittcamp said in prepared remarks during the Friday afternoon press conference. “They have contributed and encouraged criminals to continue their assaultive and depraved behaviors.

“So today I am so excited about the comments of Attorney General Bonta. I am so thrilled to hear that you are about law and order. I am so thrilled to hear that you are supportive of our efforts here in Fresno, and I would encourage you to speak to the governor and to the people in the state Assembly about stopping these political agendas, theories and versions of reform that are not working.”

Bonta, who has been praised as a criminal justice reformer in his own right, stood by stone-faced as Smittcamp gave him plaudits for taking a tough-on-crime approach to fentanyl distribution in her home county.

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