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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    33 arrests, 40 guns seized in Anaheim gang crackdown

    Published: Aug. 10, 2012 Updated: 3:07 p.m.

    33 arrests, 40 guns seized in Anaheim gang crackdown

    Culmination of yearlong operation focusing on one of the city’s oldest and most violent gangs also yields 11 pounds of crystal methamphetamine worth $2 million, officials say.

    By GREG HARDESTY, SALVADOR HERNANDEZ and ALEJANDRA MOLINA / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTERANAHEIM –

    Federal and local law enforcement officers staged predawn raids Friday throughout what officials say are gang-controlled Anaheim neighborhoods – including one where a recent fatal police shooting sparked daily protests – arresting 33 people who they suspect are members of a violent street gang and confiscating 40 weapons, plus drugs and cash.

    The raids, the culmination of an investigation dubbed Operation Halo that started in June 2011, began at 4:30 a.m. and focused on the criminal street gang called Eastside Anaheim, whose members are responsible for murders, drug trafficking and other violent crimes, Police Chief John Welter said at a news conference.

    "This is a good day for Anaheim," said Welter, whose department has been seeking to calm the waters since late July, when Manuel Diaz was shot to death by police on Anna Drive.

    Watch video from Friday's press conference.
    Read a summary from Anaheim police/ATF on Operation Halo.
    Read a Spanish version of the summary on Operation Halo.

    The shooting of Diaz, who police say was a gang member, and another fatal police shooting the same weekend stirred up civil unrest and garnered national attention. "Residents can now feel safer as a result of these arrests," Welter said.

    The chief said the raids were not connected to the Diaz shooting but said protests after his death delayed the raids, which were carried out at 54 locations, most of them in Anaheim but some of which were in Los Angeles County.

    "We decided we couldn't put this off any longer," said Welter, acknowledging that the police "need to regain the trust" of those protesting recent officer-involved shootings in Orange County's largest city.

    After Friday morning's raids, police officers distributed fliers to residents of the affected neighborhoods that detailed, in English and Spanish, Operation Halo – a move aimed at quelling any potential tensions flaring up among residents who've been on edge since the Diaz shooting.

    Welter said some residents shook the hands of officers as they swept through the neighborhoods. He said he hopes the arrests help calm the waters.

    "The community needs to trust the police," Welter said.

    RESIDENTS SKEPTICAL
    Several residents on Anna Drive told the Register that they felt the sweep was retaliation for residents' speaking out against the Diaz shooting.

    Ricardo Hurtado, 21, a resident of Anna Drive, said: "I just think this community is being targeted by the police because we're speaking out."

    As Hurtado looked at the flier that officers distributed in the neighborhood, he said: "This is all a cover-up. It's all show. They never expected this community to blow up like this."

    In all, authorities said, 44 people suspected of being gang members were arrested on charges including murder and weapons and narcotics violations as part of Operation Halo, so named because the gang operated in the shadow of Angel Stadium.

    Thirty-three of those arrests were made Friday morning in sweeps involving more than 100 officers from various agencies, authorities said.

    Nine men and one woman, from among those arrested, are expected to be arraigned in federal court in Santa Ana on Friday.

    They face similar charges, including distribution of methamphetamine and possession of an unregistered firearm. No gang offenses are among the charges.

    The courtroom of U.S. District Judge Robert Block was abuzz with activity midmorning as defense attorneys met or were assigned the new clients, an eclectic group including one in a white T-shirt with a body full of tattoos.

    Generally, if convicted, the defendants facing federal charges could be sentenced to a maximum federal prison term of 40 years for drug offenses and 10 years for gun charges.

    An additional 29 suspects face state charges that are also expected to be made public Friday, officials said.

    At the news conference, officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – the lead agency, along with the Anaheim Police Department, on Operation Halo – displayed some of the 40 weapons seized during the investigation, 38 of them purchased by undercover operatives. The other two were seized during the course of the probe.

    GUNS, METHAMPHETAMINE
    In addition to the weapons, which included assault-style weapons, sawed-off shotguns and a variety of handguns, authorities seized 11 pounds of crystal methamphetamine with a street value of about $2 million, ATF Special Agent Christian Hoffman said.

    One of the weapons – a pistol – is suspected of being used in a homicide in Anaheim, said ATF Special Agent Steven Bogdalek said.
    "We want to be on the front lines of fighting violent crime," Bogdalek told reporters.

    Operation Halo was touched off by the fatal stabbing of a 12-year-old tagger, Juan Martinez, by a fellow tagger in June 2011, Anaheim police Sgt. Bob Dunn said. After that killing, which prompted a peace march, the Anaheim Police Department reached out to the ATF to help it crack down on criminal street activity, Dunn said.

    Although others suspected of being gang members were part of the sweep, the arrests targeted members of Eastside Anaheim, Dunn said. That gang's turf includes Anna Drive and Canfield and Benmore lanes, officials said.

    Welter characterized the arrests as "very crippling" to the Eastside Anaheim gang, which he said has about 100 or so members and which he characterized as "very, very violent."

    Welter cautioned, however, that other gang members are likely to surface, and said the community and law enforcement need to work more closely together to steer kids away from criminal street activity.
    "We're all after the same thing: having neighborhoods where families can grow up without being (influenced) by gangs," Welter said.

    "(These arrests) are a first stop toward some real recovery in some of our troubled neighborhoods."

    Among the mug shots of suspects displayed at the news conference was one of Diaz. His death July 21 was the first of two back-to-back police shootings last month that touched off nights of protest.

    Participants in Operation Halo included personnel from the ATF, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Orange County District Attorney's Office, the Orange County Sheriff's Department and the police departments of Anaheim, Buena Park, Garden Grove, Orange, Fullerton, Irvine and Seal Beach.

    –Register staff writers Denisse Salazar and Vik Jolly contributed to this report.

    Contact the writer: 714-704-3764 or ghardesty@ocregister.com

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    33 arrests, 40 guns seized in Anaheim gang crackdown | operation - News - The Orange County Register

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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    NO AMNESTY

    DON'T REWARD THE CRIMINAL ACTIONS OF MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL ALIENS

    BY GIVING THEM CITIZENSHIP

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