Long Beach police on Friday morning announced sweeping raids targeted at suspected gang members believed to be connected to a string of recent shootings and homicides.
The raids, which took place just hours earlier, focused on a specific gang and included 24 different locations in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Norwalk and Paramount, according to police.
At a news conference, LBPD Chief Robert Luna didn’t identify the targeted gang, but he said it was a local Hispanic gang.
Police said they arrested ten adults and three juveniles, including a 16-year old boy and a 17-year-old boy on suspicion of murder. Another teenager was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, police said.
“It is unacceptable that we have 16- and 17-year-olds who are being introduced to the gang lifestyle,” Luna said.
He noted that the three juveniles all had criminal backgrounds and were on probation.
Social media posts in which the teenagers were shown holding guns and flashing gang signs surfaced during the investigation, according to Luna. He called on community members to report photos like these to police.
“This is a strong reminder to our community that this is absolutely a shared responsibility to identify and disrupt pathways to violence,” he said. “… This is very disturbing that this is out there in the social media world and no one’s reporting it.”
Police say the arrests are in connection with at least seven shootings in the last four months:
- In the first, on Nov. 21, five people were shot and wounded in a homeless encampment in an alley on 10th Street and Alamitos Avenue. The suspects reportedly fled in a minivan.
- The next day, on Magnolia Avenue and 15th Street, 36-year-old Jaime Ruiz was shot and killed after a man approached Ruiz and two other victims. The man spoke to them and then opened fire, according to police.
- About a month later on Dec. 19, a man was shot and wounded just after noon on the 1300 block of East Anaheim Street by a group of three men.
- Dec. 29, two men were shot, killing one man in Cambodia Town. Two suspects had approached the victims, who were standing with three others outside an apartment building near 14th Street and Junipero Avenue, and yelled at them before shooting, police said.
- On Jan. 5, a woman was hospitalized after a group of men reportedly confronted her and shot her in an alley behind her home.
- About a month later on Feb. 5, a man and a girl were shot and wounded by a group of men who were trying to rob them in the 900 block of Park Circle, according to the LBPD.
- Two days later on Feb. 4 a boy was shot and wounded by a suspect on the 900 block of Maine Avenue, police said.
Luna said that during several of the shootings, the suspects were intending to hit rival gang members but wounded innocent bystanders. The 19 victims ranged from ages 16 to 71 and were from a variety of backgrounds, according to police.
Luna said one of the people killed was a known gang member and he believed another homicide victim was associated with a gang, but he did not specify further.
“People shooting at anybody, we’re going to be all over it,” Luna said.
Police are still in the process of booking the adults into jail.
In addition to the arrests, police seized five handguns, one rifle and at least three pounds of methamphetamine, Luna said.
The LAPD and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department both assisted in the Valentine’s Day raids, dubbed Operation Broken Hearts by police.
The LA County Probation Department also helped by conducting compliance checks at eight locations in Long Beach, Norwalk , Paramount and Los Angeles, according to the LBPD. Corrections officers also did cell searches in various state prisons and several parole compliance checks in Long Beach, Luna said.
Police ask that anyone who has information on any of these incidents to contact the Detectives Adrian Garcia, Sean Magee or Leticia Gamboa at 562-570-7244. Anonymous tipsters may call 1-800-222-8477 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information from police.
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