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RIVERSIDE – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz today announced Operation Eastbound and Down, an effort to dismantle the largest criminal street gang in Riverside County. The Operation included the arrest of 45 individuals and the seizure of 63 firearms, including 13 assault weapons.
The six-month investigation began following a spike in violent crimes in the Riverside community, including murder, drive-by shootings, and assaults. The spike of crimes resulted from the release from custody of gang members and associates who began fighting to regain control and power. As a result of the operation, gang members and their associates will be charged with various crimes. These charges include attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, illegal possession and trafficking of firearms and narcotics, and conspiracy to commit criminal activity. The Riverside County District Attorney will be prosecuting the cases.
“No community should be plagued by violence and street crime. This week’s coordinated action targeting criminal street gangs, which will be followed by vigorous prosecution, is an essential component in fulfilling our public safety responsibilities,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The men and women of the California Department of Justice will continue to work hand-in-hand with the Riverside Police Department and the Riverside County District Attorney to take back our neighborhoods for the families of Riverside.”
“I am very proud of the amazing work of our gang and narcotics detectives, as well as of the incredible partnership with the California Attorney General and his Department of Justice investigators,” said Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz. “The primary message we wish to convey to our residents is that the Riverside Police Department is committed to working tirelessly to ensure that violent crime is addressed and that its victims can find a measure of justice. When violent gangsters are removed from our streets, the entire community is able to peaceably enjoy our City’s freedoms and its charms. Most importantly, children can learn and develop and play without the fear of being victimized in any neighborhood. All of us in the criminal justice system have an absolute obligation to provide that peace and those opportunities to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.”
“This operation and the tremendous impact it will now have on this violent criminal street gang is another example of what can be achieved when law enforcement agencies on the local, state, and federal level work together,” said Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin. “The criminal street gang targeted in this operation has victimized our community for far too long. Fighting gang violence has been and will continue to be a priority for my office.”
Operation Eastbound and Down was a joint investigative effort between the California Department of Justice and the California Highway Patrol Special Operations Unit, the Riverside Police Department, and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. Together the agencies have been working to reduce and minimize the violence and public threat associated with these highly volatile criminal street gang members.
The Special Operations Unit is a collaborative investigative effort between the California Department of Justice and California Highway Patrol that provides statewide enforcement to combat violent career criminals, gangs, and organized crime groups, along with intrastate drug traffickers.