CONCORD, CA—Amid all the fanfare for a job well done that followed a recent high-profile drug bust, Concord Police Chief Mark Bustillos wants residents to know that the largest city in Contra Costa County is a safer place because of it.
And, as important: “We don’t forget the victims of crime,” he said.
The police were able to close four Contra Costa homicide investigations as part of the mid-September drug bust that netted and charged 26 suspected Sureño members and associates with serious crimes, including murder.
In a 19-month span of intense gang violence in Concord, Victor Gutierrez, 21, was shot and killed in April 2014; 20-year-old Erick Cruz was shot and killed outside of Pine Meadows apartments in September 2015; and Luis Estrada, a 16-year-old boy, was taken to a Concord park, ambushed and gunned down in November 2015.
The area of Concord along Monument Boulevard – also referred to as “the Bully” – has been known as a Sureño hotspot for decades. While Bustillos acknowledged a one or two percent uptick in violent crime in the past year, he expects that trend to go down – with these arrests as a key factor.
Operation Boulevard Blues
Called Operation Boulevard Blues, the FBI and Concord police-led operation resulted in 11 suspected Sureños facing murder and gang charges. Authorities served 34 search warrants across the Bay Area in recent weeks and seized 42 guns, according to prosecutors.
“There are lot of guns that will be taken off the streets again in Concord, and this will result in a decrease in violent crime,” Bustillos said, noting that it will also keep the guns from being sold again.
With the $50,000 in cash seized in the raids, the local department will reap a small benefit but nothing significant. The real impact, said Bustillos, is the activity being removed from the streets. That is where drug dealers, engaging in narcotics and gun transactions, were causing havoc and endangering the public.
Another by-product for the department is more capacity for investigating lower level gang members involved in narcotic sales.
Because some prosecutions will occur at the federal level as well as state charges, Bustillos expects lengthier prison sentences.
“Three families in Concord now know (those responsible) will be brought to justice,” he said. “We didn’t forget the victims’ families. Whether it’s my administration or the ones that will follow, we will always work to do what’s right.”