PALMDALE – More than 200 people were arrested during a monthlong crackdown on “underground” parties held in violation of COVID-19 health protocols, sheriff officials said.
The parties took place in December throughout the county, in areas such as Palmdale, downtown Los Angeles and Compton. In total, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department made 235 arrests and recovered seven illegal firearms, according to the agency. Deputies began targeting the events amid rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
The monthlong operation included a raid on a Dec. 5 house party at a rental home in the 6300 block of West Avenue M8 in Palmdale, where deputies arrested 158 people and seized six firearms. A 17-year- old human trafficking victim was also rescued during the event, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said earlier.
Two more large parties took place Dec. 19 and 20, which resulted in 67 additional arrests. The first gathering that weekend took place in the 400 block of South Hewitt Street, near Alameda Street, in downtown Los Angeles, where, just before law enforcement officers arrived, a shooting occurred and a 25-year-old man was killed, sheriff’s officials said. A 25-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man were struck by bullets and hospitalized, according to Los Angeles Police Department, which investigated the shooting.
Deputies responded to a second party about 12:30 a.m. Dec. 20 at 1916 E. Rosecrans Ave., near North Willowbrook Avenue, in Compton where “announcements were made and the location was secured,” Deputy Joana Warren of the sheriff’s department said.
Among the arrests that weekend were 60 adults and six juveniles accused of misdemeanors, according to Warren. Another adult was arrested on suspicion of possessing a firearm. Deputies also found evidence of illegal use of nitrous oxide at a party, she said.
Villanueva said the raids were meant to “reduce the spread of COVID- 19 and the risk to our vulnerable populations.”
“I have made it clear that we will seek out and take law enforcement action against all super-spreader events occurring anywhere within Los Angeles County,” he said in a statement, adding that anyone with information on possible super-spreader events can call their nearest sheriff’s office station.