The second-in-command of the Fresno Police Department and four others were arrested Thursday on federal drug charges, authorities said.
Keith Foster, who joined the department in 1986 and worked as deputy chief since 2007, is accused of conspiring to distribute heroin, oxycodone and marijuana, according to the federal criminal complaint unsealed Thursday.
Foster was placed on paid administrative leave and the department pledged to investigate the drug conspiracy allegations.
“I’m at a loss for words, quite frankly,” said Chief Jerry Dyer, adding that he learned about the investigation only after Foster was arrested. "This is a very very sad day for the Fresno Police Department, the citizens of Fresno, and the law enforcement profession.”
During a yearlong investigation by the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, investigators trailed Foster, 51, as he drove his black BMW to pick up two prescriptions for 100 oxycodone pills, according to a sworn affidavit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
Minutes after picking up the prescriptions, Foster was seen dropping off the narcotics at the home of Randy Flowers, who was also arrested and charged Thursday, authorities said.
On Dec. 24, investigators listening to Foster’s phone calls heard him ask convicted drug dealer Rafael Guzman if he had “the black,” referring to black tar heroin, according to the affidavit. Foster later inquired what “the ticket” was, referring to the heroin’s price, authorities said.
Guzman, 41, who was also arrested and charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, replied that he knew of “some China white,” or white powder heroin, according to the affidavit.
The complaint and affidavit named six individuals involved in what a federal investigator labeled the "Foster drug-trafficking organization,” including two believed to be related to Foster: Iran Dennis Foster and Flowers.
Iran Foster; Flowers, 48; and Jennifer Donebedian, 35, were also arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to distribute drugs, authorities said. An arrest warrant was issued for a sixth person, Sarah Ybarra, who was not yet in custody late Thursday.
All five arrested were scheduled to appear in court Friday.
Dyer, the police chief, met with senior department leaders late Thursday but did not reveal plans for an interim or permanent replacement for Foster’s post, said department spokesman Lt. Joe Gomez.
For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno.