PALMDALE (CBSLA) – Los Angeles County officials are considering new measures to crack down on large gatherings after a raid on an underground party in Palmdale over the weekend lead to the arrests of 158 people.
In a news conference Tuesday morning, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the organizers broke into a vacant house and used a U-Haul to bring in equipment for the “massive underground party.”READ MORE: High-Definition Panorama Taken By Mars Rover Perseverance Shows Crater Rim, Cliff Face Of Ancient River Delta
An underage sex trafficking victim who was attending the party was also rescued, Villanueva said. Several handguns were also recovered.
The raid took place at about 10 p.m. Saturday in the 6300 block of West Avenue M8. Of those arrested, 116 were adults and 35 were juveniles.
Neighbor Carlos Cordero says young partygoers jumped his wall to try to get away from deputies during the raid – which seized weapons and ammunition.
“Nah, they were not wearing any masks at all,” said Cordero.
Villanueva described these underground parties as often having “drugs, prostitution, underage drinking and violence.”
When asked why the party, which was promoted on social media, was allowed to get underway before deputies swooped in, Villanueva said, “Well if we did that, we shut down before…we would not have rescued the human trafficking victim. That would’ve been passed down to the next party.”READ MORE: No Criminal Charges Being Considered Against Tiger Woods For Crash, Sheriff Says: ‘He Was Lucid’
The raid came less than a week after Villanueva announced that his deputies would begin enforcing public health orders by cracking down on “super-spreader” gatherings.
During the L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Supervisor Kathryn Barger introduced a motion asking the county’s chief executive officer to find funding to help the sheriff crack down on “underground” super-spreader events.
According to Barger, the sheriff’s department is monitoring social media for info on any potential party locations and, if necessary, to set up surveillance.
Up to 1,000 people were believed to be at the Palmdale party, Barger said, adding that organizers broke into the location.
Newly seated Supervisor Holly Mitchell offered an amendment aimed at clarifying that super-spreader events be specifically defined to avoid any confusion with lawful gatherings like protests.
Mitchell also asked for enforcement funding to be provided to both the public health and sheriff’s departments.
Under the regional stay-at-home order which took effect at midnight Sunday for Southern California due to the spike in COVID-19 cases, all private and public gatherings of any size are banned except for protests and outdoor religious services. It will last for at least three weeks.MORE NEWS: Strong Santa Ana Winds Expected To Blow Into Los Angeles Area Tonight
While Villanueva has said he will enforce public health orders, the sheriffs of Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties have indicated they will not.