HEMET (CBSLA.com) — Riverside County’s gang impact team has been working on “Operation Valley Vigilance” for the last seven months. They say Thursday morning’s raids on 58 homes are the largest single-day takedown in the history of the San Jacinto Valley.
When police swarmed the Sun Valley estates in Hemet, Brian Usher got a little worried.
“I got a call from my fiancé telling me the police were down the street. I took a look and saw 7-8 police cars,” Usher said.
Usher didn’t know that at the same time, armored trucks with local and federal officers were rolling through dozens of neighborhoods across the San Jacinto Valley, serving warrants and arresting criminals wanted for drugs and weapons charges.
“These are not petty minor criminal offenders. These are dangerous people that are violent that are selling these guns, they’re fueling the drug trade,” District Attorney Mike Hestrin said.
Hemet Police Chief Dave Brown knew the heavy police presence would cause some concern with homeowners.
“The majority of warrants were served simultaneously at 6 a.m. because of the relationships between some of the targets,” Brown said. “So to make that happen successfully it had to be the element of surprise, it was absolutely important.”
Brown says the operation was successful. Officers arrested 47 people, some wanted for violent crimes like murder. They also seized 77 weapons.
“We may never know the number of violent crimes prevented by these weapons and these violent criminals from our streets,” Brown said.
The district attorney knows that in the past some criminals have served time and been back on the streets quickly. He says that’s why he’s working with federal agencies on many of these cases.
“We want the option of putting these dangerous criminals behind bars for as long as possible,” Hestrin said. “Where state laws have failed the people of California, federal laws are sometimes applicable.”
Usher is thankful officers are doing something about the growing crime in the valley.
“They’re doing a good job, doing what they’re supposed to be doing to keep the streets safe.”
The gang impact team says Thursday’s raid isn’t the end of the operation. They still have six suspects they’re trying to find and arrest.