Guns, drugs seized in Anaheim sweep targeting gang
A yearlong investigation into one of Anaheim oldest street gangs has resulted in the arrests of 49 people and the seizure of dozens of firearms and 11 pounds of crystal meth, authorities announced Friday.
The investigation, dubbed Operation Halo, involved more than 250 law enforcement officers who fanned out across Orange County and part of Los Angeles in the sweep, officials said.
The probe was aimed at Eastside Anaheim, a gang that police said is deeply rooted in the city. Of the 49 people arrested, authorities said, 11 were identified at career criminals and documented gang members.
Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said at a news conference that members of Eastside Anaheim have successfully manipulated the community by persuading residents to mistrust the police and gang-intervention officers.
"If criminals realize residents are afraid of us, they exploit that," he said.
The arrests come after a series of street protests and general unrest in Anaheim that grew out of community anger over the fatal police shootings of two Latino men in Anaheim. Both the crime rate and the number of officer-involved shootings have increased markedly this year in Orange County's largest city.
Welter would neither confirm nor deny that one of the people shot by police was a member of Eastside Anaheim.
Authorities said officers went to 54 locations during the pre-dawn sweep. Two tables filled with seized weapons were displayed during the morning news conference. The weaponry included assault-style firearms and sawed-off shotguns.
"We decided we couldn't put this off any longer," Welter said of the sweep. "We can't wait until another person gets shot."
Participants in the investigation included personnel from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. 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.
-- Nicole Santa Cruz
Photo: Photos of suspects and weapons seized during an early morning sweep are displayed at a news conference in Anaheim. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times