PALMDALE – Teams of deputies served 13 simultaneous warrants on Tuesday, taking down the band of juvenile “thugs” allegedly responsible for multiple robberies, burglaries and assaults in Palmdale over the past several months, authorities said.
“It’s a group of mostly juveniles that have been working together and basically terrorizing east Palmdale,” said Lt. Cory Kennedy of the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station.
The operation began around 7 a.m. Tuesday, June 17 and included nearly 120 personnel from the Palmdale, Lancaster and Santa Clarita Sheriff Stations, as well as teams from Parole Compliance, Narcotics and Safe Streets Bureau.
The operation focused on members of a local gang who have been assaulting, robbing and burglarizing not only residents, but local retailers by “flocking” stores, according to Lieutenant Larry Gregg of the Antelope Valley Crime Fighting Initiative (AVCFI).
Six juveniles were arrested during the operation; all on suspicion of assault. Three adults were arrested, including 19-year-old Ryan Vigil on suspicion of burglary; 18-year-old James Span on suspicion of burglary; and 34-year-old Melodie Gray for parole violation.
Those arrested Tuesday had not only filmed their crimes, but were “bold enough to then put out the videos through social media websites,” Gregg stated.
He said Palmdale detectives had been tracking the juvenile delinquents for several months.
“They have committed robberies in the local [Domenic Massari] park, burglarized cars and home, sometimes while the residents were sleeping,” Gregg stated.
He said local businesses were also targeted through “flocking” – multiple people descending on a location to create a distraction, as others steal items.
“There were multiple victims on different dates, at different times,” Kennedy said. “Basically, anybody was susceptible to their behavior… they were acting like a pack of thugs.”
Numerous pieces of suspected stolen property were also recovered Tuesday, including a gun from one of the warrant locations. One suspect sought during the operation is still outstanding and is being pursued by detectives from the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station.
Tuesday’s search warrant operation is “only the beginning,” according to Gregg, who said “future operations are being planned.”