Score a big win for the the Fresno Police Department — its crackdown on the notorious Dog Pound Gangsters street gang ended this week in federal court, when one of the last ringleaders pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to kill a rival.
"The Dog Pound has been crippled," Chief Jerry Dyer said after Deandre Stanfield, 38, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony charge of conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering. In exchange, prosecutors will recommend a prison term of 10 years when he is sentenced in October.
Stanfield in one of 16 members of the southwest Fresno gang who have pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to charges involving conspiracy to murder, human trafficking, gun and drug possession, and credit card fraud that ripped off businesses in Fresno and elsewhere of more than $3 million.
Dyer described the gang as "the most notorious and violent gang in the city of Fresno, responsible for countless shootings and murders over the past 20 plus years."
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In addition, the chief said, "They not only ordered shootings and murders to occur, they trafficked young teenage girls across the country, making millions of dollars."
Dyer credited Fresno police homicide Sgt. Andre Benson for being the driving force behind "Operation Dog Track." He also said the case was successful because of a partnership with the U.S. Attorney's Office, California Department of Justice, Fresno County District Attorney's Office, and several federal law enforcement agencies.
Because the operation was successful, Dyer said gang shootings are down 31 percent and murders are down 50 percent this year.
The crackdown was the product of police surveillance of gang members and wiretaps that intercepted more than 5,000 telephone calls and text messages between gang members, informants, prostitutes and friends. Authorities say the wiretaps were instrumental in convincing the defendants to take plea deals to avoid a trial in July where they would face lengthy prison sentences if convicted.
The case was prosecuted by assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly Sanchez, Jeffrey Spivak and Christopher Baker. Because of the plea agreements, many of the defendants faces up to 14 years in prison.
According to a 258-page federal affidavit that led to the arrests of the gang's key leaders and members in April 2016, the Dog Pound Gangsters have wreaked havoc by selling drugs and luring foster children and runaways into the prostitution trade with promises of freedom and riches, but keeping them in check with beatings and threats of death,
At the time of the arrest, Dyer called the crackdown "the largest and most impactful gang operation in this city’s history.”
A criminal complaint accused many of them with conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering; sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud or coercion; fraud and conspiracy; transporting women and girls interstate for prostitution; using motels and hotels interstate to promote prostitution; and being felons in possession of firearms.
The affidavit says James York, 41, who goes by York Dog, is the top boss of the Dog Pound. Stanfield, who goes by Dre, also is a ringleader, calling shots from Kern Valley State Prison near Delano, where he is serving time for assault with a firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Stanfield, who also goes by Stanfill, used a smuggled cellphone from within the prison walls to talk to York and members of the gang, the affidavit says.
York pleaded guilty on June 11 to the murder conspiracy charge, as well as to felony charges of promoting prostitution and possession of an illegal firearm. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 14 years in a federal penitentiary when he is sentenced on Oct. 1.
Another high-ranking member, Trenell Monson, 31, who goes by Nachi Chedda, also pleaded guilty on June 11 to the murder conspiracy charge, as well as two felony counts of human trafficking. He also faces 14 years in priosn.
According the the wiretaps, York, Stanfield and others talked about killing a rival — a former Edison High football star who became a rival gang member. The Dog Pound suspected the rival, a member of Fink White Deuces, of trying to kill a Dog Pound member.
But the wiretaps also revealed dissension in the Dog Pound ranks.
In one wiretap, Stanfield advises York that his "situation was the same as being the President" who had a duty to send his troops to war. In the telephone call, Stanfield chides younger Dog Pound members, saying they spend too much time on Facebook and accusing them of “Internet banging.”
“Stanfield was expressing frustration at the posturing and lack of willingness by younger members of the group to engage in acts of violence,” the affidavit says.
York also was unhappy with his younger troops, saying they were using drugs instead of dealing them. In one wiretap, York and Stanfield talk about how the conflict with rival gangs started over money. The affidavit says York and Stanfield, when they were younger, “kept up the hustle and they may have had a shooting here or there.”
“We eliminated a lot of people, man,” Stanfield told York, according to the affidavit.
Other high-ranking members who pleaded guilty on June 11 to the murder conspiracy include Darrell Maxey, 22; Davon Millro, 24; Kenneth Wharry, 35; and Aquilla Bailey, 20. The four defendants also pleaded guilty to human trafficking charges. In addition, Wharry pleaded guilty to credit card fraud.
The plea deals identified Monson, Maxey, Millro and Kevin Packard, 28, as pimps of several females. Packard pleaded guilty to human trafficking charges on April 5. He faces three years and four months in prison. He is schedule to be sentenced Monday, June 25, in Judge Lawrence O'Neill's courtroom.
Maxey faces about 11 years in prison; Millro and Wharry each face 10 years in prison; and Bailey faces five years in prison. Maxey, Millro and Wharry will be sentenced October 1. Bailey will be sentenced Sept. 4.
The affidavit says the Dog Pound Gangsters formed in the early 1990s and is composed primarily of African American males, the affidavit says. There are about 200 members whose turf, commonly know as “The Pound,” generally is bounded by Jensen, Annadale and Elm avenues and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in southwest Fresno.
The gang's notoriety surfaced in 2008, when the District Attorney's Office obtained an Superior Court injunction that prohibited members from gathering on their turf. But the injunction just forced many of them to relocate to other parts of Fresno, as well as to Clovis, Madera, Los Angeles and Sacramento, the affidavit says.
In March 2014, the gang made headlines when Monson, Packard and Maurice Jamison, then 33, were arrested in connection with the drive-by killing of 23-year-old Maurice Webb and the attempted murder of Jermaine Perry, now 28.
The shooting occurred on the 2400 block South Lily Avenue in southwest Fresno. Police said more than 40 rounds were fired. The District Attorney's Office filed murder, attempted murder, and gun charges against the trio, but the case was dismissed with witnesses declined to testify.
The affidavit says Dog Pound members had other ways to keep ahead of police, including: members would spy on a crime scene to see which witnesses were talking to officers. Plus, when detectives picked up the trail of gang members in cars, the driver would drop his passenger at a store and then drive away.
The Dog Pound Gangsters’ feud with rival gangs included the Muhammad Family, Villa Posse, Strother Boys, and Klette Mob. The Dog Pound Gangsters aligned with such gangs as Modoc Boys, Garrett Street Boys, Northside Pleasant, East Lane and U Boys.
The war between the two factions intensified when Wharry was shot and wounded in Fresno on March 23, 2016. Police say Wharry was driving his car when a drive-by shooter shot him. The bullets grazed his back. The Dog Pound Gangsters suspected a Fink White Deuce member was involved, court records say.
Unbeknownst to them, key members of the Dog Pound Gangsters were being wiretapped. In the wiretaps, the members talked about killing rivals, the affidavit says.
The other gang members who have pleaded guilty are:
Kenneth Ray Johnson III,28; Kiandre Johnson, 25; Anthony Windfield, 33; William Lee, 40; Marvin Larry, 44; Nathasa Parks,29; Luther Newsome, 33; and Steven Blackmon.
Court records say Kenneth and Kiandre Johnson, Windfield and Lee were involved in the murder conspiracy. Larry, Parks, Newsome and Windfield were involved in credit card fraud that bilked businesses out of $3,059,500 the plea agreements say.
In November 2017, Blackmon pleaded guilty to gun and drug charges. In February, he was sentenced to four years in prison.
Larry has been sent to prison. In May, O'Neill ordered him to spend four years and three months behind bars. Sentencing hearings for Parks and Newsome are scheduled for September. Kenneth Ray Johnson III, Kiandre Johnson, Windfield, and Lee will be held in October.
Sharika Gaines, who has a 4-year-old daughter with York, plans to plead guilty Sept. 24 to a charge of using a cell phone once to assist York. In exchange, prosecutors will recommend probation. Court records say she and her daughter have been relocated to another state for her safety.
Another defendant, Markeith Canady, 35, who faces human trafficking charges, was successful in having his case separated from the other defendants. His trial is scheduled for late August.
If York, Stanfield, Monson and the other defendants hadn't accepted the plea agreements, their trial was scheduled to begin in mid July.
Though the Dog Pound has been crippled, Dyer said "they are making serious attempts to rebuild by recruiting young neighborhood kids in the gang lifestyle. This is why we must be diligent in our ongoing efforts against the Dog Pound and every other gang in this city."