Fresno Deputy Police Chief Arrested on Federal Drug Charges
A scandal in the police ranks on Thursday saw the Fresno deputy police chief arrested on federal drug charges for conspiracy to possess and distribute heroin, oxycodone, and marijuana. The arrest came after a year-long joint investigation from the FBI and ATF.
Keith Foster, 51, who has served in the cityâ€™s police department since December 1986, was one of four individuals arrested as part of an investigation into a drug conspiracy. He was named Fresnoâ€™s deputy chief in January 2007, and had been in charge of Fresnoâ€™s patrol operations in their four police districts.
As a result of his arrest, Foster was placed on administrative paid leave and was forced to turn in his gun. The Fresno Police Department will also conduct an internal investigation to determine if other violations have been committed, either policy or criminally-related.
Five other individuals: Rafael Guzman, 41, Randy Flowers, 48, and the trio of Jennifer Donebedian, 35, Dennis Foster, 44, and Sarah Ybarra, 37, were also apprehended with the deputy police chief arrested on federal drug charges.
Both Flowers and Foster have previous drug convictions, and Flowers was a friend of Fosterâ€™s nephew Eric, who was killed in an officer-involved shooting in 2002.
Having his deputy police chief arrested on federal drug charges was a severe blow to Fresnoâ€™s police chief, Jerry Dyer, who said, â€œThis is a sad day for the Fresno Police Department, the citizens of Fresno, the law enforcement profession, and for me personally.â€
The investigation of Foster began approximately a year ago, with wiretaps installed four months later. After months of little progress, the pace picked up in November after the scope of the wiretaps expanded to include Foster and the others to determine if they were involved in drug trafficking.
On December 23, a wiretap caught Foster telling Flowers that he had â€œ100 of those things,â€ a reference to oxycodone pills. Further investigation determined that Foster picked up the pills at a local drug store before briefly visiting Flowersâ€™ home. The two then repeated the activity on January 27.
Two other wiretaps resulted in further evidence. The first, on December 6, had Foster reportedly asking to â€œget some unitsâ€ before talking money, which investigators says was concerning marijuana.
The latter tap, on December 24, captured a call between Foster and Guzman, who was known to police as a drug dealer. While not being aware of the surveillance, the two still used code words, including repeated references to China whiteâ€”otherwise known as black tar heroin.
This was the second arrest in recent years for Foster and his family. In 2012, Fosterâ€™s brother Patrick was arrested as the getaway driver during a burglary at a department store in Clovis, a suburb of Fresno.
After having the deputy police chief arrested on federal drug charges and picking up the other five individuals, the results of the investigation were announced by FBI Special Agent Monica Miller and ATF Special Agent Joseph M. Riehl.