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Police bust notorious San Bernardino gang

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A major bust in San Bernardino brought a notorious gang to its knees. Nearly two dozen reported gang members are off the streets, along with a slew of drugs and weapons.

A total of 22 arrests were made during the bust that took more than a year's work. The Wednesday bust is also shedding light on past allegations of police brutality.

When Eyewitness News first aired amateur video of officers arresting local barbershop owner Darren Johnson in October 23, 2009, the question was simple: Did officers use excessive force during the arrest?

What we didn't know at the time was that Johnson was involved in a major drug deal that night, as a key member in one of the most dangerous street gangs in San Bernardino.

"And that was in his mind. I'm certain it was in the minds of our officers and it was in the minds of our personnel," said a San Bernardino police officer.

"Now you know that. Now you know what the officers in this department were up against, protecting their lives and others," said San Bernardino District Attorney Michael Ramos.

Seven months later, Johnson is under arrest again, and this time on allegations that he was a member of a violent street gang known for drugs, robbery and even murder.

Items seized Wednesday included gang paraphernalia, 32 pounds of meth and ten firearms.

"That's not the morning laundry. Those are hardcore drugs that are here to be pedaled in our city, that are no longer available on the street," said San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris.

Still, like most battles between law enforcement and local gangs, this one is not over yet.

But at police headquarters, they say they've scored a major victory.

"I think it's a significant impact on this gang. Over time, some gangs can re-establish themselves. I think our priorities are going to stay on top of this gang and make sure that doesn't happen to the best efforts of ourselves and our partners," said San Bernardino Police Department Chief Keith Kilmer.

San Bernardino police say that more gang-related arrests may be on the way.

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