5:00am Reporting by Greggory Moore | Long Beach Police announced Wednesday that a multi-agency law-enforcement operation targeting 47 locations in both Los Angeles and Orange Counties has resulted in 17 arrests on a variety of felony charges.
The operation, which took place Wednesday morning, was the culmination of a four-month investigation into the collaborative activities of several Asian gangs, including five based in Long Beach, said LBPD Chief Jim McDonnell. The alleged crimes include possession of stolen property, possession of narcotics for sale, elder abuse, forgery, fraud, identity theft, and probation and parole violations.
According to McDonnell, "[T]he suspects were possibly involved in several home-invasion robberies, burglaries, and other thefts in the greater Long Beach and Orange County areas."
Items seized during the August 17 operation includes a half-dozen handguns, "a quantity of narcotics, including methamphetamine, ecstasy, and marijuana … and cash proceeds from the sale of narcotics," as well as numerous stolen Rolex and Movado watches, computers, and customized car wheels.
"So as you can see, these suspects across the board were working every imaginable crime that we see on a daily basis," said McDonnell. "Detectives have determined that [regarding] a current robbery trend throughout the Southern California area, gangs members from both allied gangs and rival gangs are teaming up with the express purpose of committing lucrative crimes."
McDonnell said that the four-month investigation, which is ongoing, includes (in addition to the LBPD) the L.A. County Sherriff's Dept., Operation Safe Streets Bureau, and the police departments of the Cities of Westminster, Garden Grove, and Fountain Valley.
"What's very unusual is to get gangs — [both] rival and allied gangs — working together in robbery groups," McDonnell said. "So we're seeing something here that's like a trend. But that's unusual historically."
Long Beach Police Lt. Alex Avila explained that the charge of elder abuse stems from "several gang members living in really horrendous conditions. In there we found an elderly gentleman that appeared to be neglected."
Chief McDonnell declined to state how the overall investigation was initiated, citing a desire not to jeopardize the safety of any persons who may be involved.
"The strength of the gangs is their ability to intimidate, particularly those within their own neighborhoods," said McDonnell. "So we have anonymous tip lines, and I would ask that people consider using those. Nobody knows what's happening in their own neighborhood better than the people who live there; and as long as they're willing to allow those within their own neighborhood to do what they want without fear of being arrested, we have the situation that we see across urban America."
Anyone with pertinent information on related crimes is urged to contact Detectives Jason Garcia or George Ayala with the Gang Enforcement Section at (562) 570-7370.
To give the LBPD an anonymous tip regarding illicit gang activity, call (866) 426-4847.