Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Notoriety of the Fresno Bulldogs

     Fresno is in the fifth largest city in California and is located in the center of the San Joaquin Valley; the Fresno Bulldogs gang is proud to call it their home.  They remain the largest Hispanic gang in Central California comprised of over five thousand members and six thousand associates (National Gang Threat Assessment 2009, pg 33).  The Bulldogs have been in existence since the late 1960’s initially in the California prison system.  Originally known as F-14, they were delegated by Nuestra Familia but later broke off in the 1980’s into the Fresno Bulldogs street gang.  The Bulldogs are broken into six different known sets which include Eastside, Northside, Parkside, Calwa, Westside, and County Dogs.  The Bulldogs are a gang tied to an impulsive lifestyle that reflects the demands of respect, with each member sharing the same mentality.  The Bulldogs have discomforted the city of Fresno by orchestrating illegal acts of violence, narcotics distribution, and self identifying and promoting of the Bulldog gang.
     The Fresno Bulldogs have frightened the city with their notorious reputation for outpours of violence and crimes ranging from robberies, murders, sexual assaults, and kidnappings.  According to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dryer, “We found that 10 percent of the people in our city [Fresno] were committing 50 percent of the crime.  If your talking about robbery that increases to 80 percent” (Cone, 2010, pg 3).  A majority of that 10 percent traces back to the Bulldogs.  The percentages are high, and it is only logical to create a parallel between the crime rates generated by the Bulldogs and the unemployment rate in Fresno at 18.2 percent (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2011).  Bulldog gang members often pursue violent and criminal ways to combat the downward shift of the economy.  Because Bulldogs are an impulsive gang, they are not pursuing positive avenues to create a stable financial environment.  Part of the Bulldogs impulsive nature correlates to the number of shootings in Fresno (Cone, 2010, pg 4).  In Fresno, 314 shootings were recorded in 2006, 226 shootings in 2008, and 231 shootings in 2009.  While the shootings have decreased, they are still significantly high.  Shootings are due in part because of conflict between rivals including Crypts, Sureños, Norteños, and any prison gangs; they target almost anyone representing outside of their own.  Shootings can also be traced to membership requirements that expect an individual becoming a Bulldog to yield to the needs of the group in exchange for protection.  This creates a new found identity that defines friends and enemies.  A member may be asked to “put in work”, meaning doing work for the gang such as drive-bys, hits, or other various missions (Blatchford, 2008, pg 307).  The work put in for gangs in not as simple as yes or no, but must be demonstrated to be recognized as a member.  Because the Bulldogs appeal to youth with broken families and members of society who are often alienated, committing violent criminal acts for the gang is not an issue. 

     Another non-issue for Fresno Bulldogs gang members that has frightened the city is the distribution of narcotics.  According to the Drug Market Analysis 2009, the Bulldogs are connected to mid-level and retail level distribution of methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin (Drug Market Analysis 2009, pg 5).  The location of the Fresno Bulldogs puts them in the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA); this creates a dilemma.  Fresno’s adjacency to illicit drug source areas establishes the area as a national level transportation and distribution center.  The Central Valley HIDTA region's highway and access to drug traffickers along the Southwest Border, Mexico and Canada allows traffickers to bring in substantial quantities to the area (Drug Market Analysis 2009, pg 2).  The Bulldogs prominent accessibility makes the temptations of quick profits into a reality on the streets.  The Bulldogs quick profits through narcotic distribution not only come from outside drug traffickers, but also from illegally grown cannabis plants.  In Fresno alone, the number of outdoor cannabis plants seized in Fresno is a staggering 172, 302 plants with an additional 1,340 indoor grown plants in 2008 (Drug Market Analysis 2009, pg 9).  The Bulldogs distribution of narcotics could easily be contributed from the illegal growing of cannabis plants, or from a local source that works with the gang.  Another reason Bulldogs involve themselves in narcotics distribution deals with gang culture.  Gang culture has much to do with the community, and the idea of respect based on individual accomplishments and what an individual can afford.  A Bulldog gang member may see selling drugs as a path to get where he wants to get, to afford what he wants to buy, and to live what he knows as a normal life.   

     Another issue commonly normal to Fresno Bulldogs is the self identification and promotion of their gang that adds to the fear they create in the community.  The Bulldogs self identify themselves in a number of ways including tattoos of Bulldogs taken from the Fresno State University mascot, the acronyms F-14, BDS, FBD, the color red, hand signs, and their notorious barking (Gangs187).  These self identifiers create tension in the community because the population worries for their safety in whether they accurately or inaccurately identify a Bulldog gang member.  Not only can self identifiers cause tension, but they can be dangerous.  A young woman jogging was shot at from a rival gang of the Bulldogs all because she was wearing red Fresno State University clothing with the school mascot (Cone, 2010, pg 2).  With self identification of the Bulldog gang includes the promotion of the gang through social networks like Facebook and Youtube in order to admit, flaunt, and recruit gang members.  One Youtube video glamorizes the Bulldogs lifestyle by showing images of Bulldog members together as a family socializing with alcohol, wearing the proper red Fresno Bulldogs clothing while the background music talks down on cops and rival gangs members.  The video intends to appeal to youth who are looking for something to be apart of that seems to be missing from their life, but it fails to represent the realities tied to gang membership such as violence for the purpose of the gang and the consequences that follow.     
     It is important to understand why the Fresno Bulldogs operate the way they do to create awareness.  A combination of the downward shift in the economy and gang culture requiring to “put in work” for the gang continues to contribute to the violence.  The Bulldogs prominent accessibility to drug traffickers and the overwhelming growth of illegal cannabis growing fuels the narcotics distribution business for the Bulldogs.  Self identification and promotion of the Bulldog gang through media and social networks has caused tension in the community and has created a dangerous environment for innocent people in the Fresno community.  The Bulldogs are a community problem, and the community must work with law enforcement to help prevent further gang issues. 

1.  "National Gang Threat Assessment 2009 ." National Gang Intelligence Center. FBI,
     n.d. Web. 8 Nov. 2011. <
2.  "Bureau of Labor Statistics; Economy at a Glance." United States Department of
     Labor . N.p., 1 Mar. 2011. Web. 6 Nov. 2011. <
3.  Drug Market Analysis 2009. National Drug Intelligence Center, 2009. PDF file.
4.  Fresno Bulldog Gang. Youtube. LLC, 22 Dec. 2009. Web. 9 Nov. 2011.
5.  Blatchford, Chris. The Black Hand. New York: First Harper Paperback Published ,
     2009. Print.
6.  "Fresno Bulldogs ." Gangs 187. COPYRIGHT 2009-2010 GANGS187, 17 May 2010. Web.
     7 Nov. 2011. <>.
7.  Cone, Tracie. "Fresno Bulldogs." Gangs 187. N.p., 2010. Web. 7 Nov. 2011.