California cops arrest 180 in takedown of violent gang

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Firearms, seized from a multiagency operation targeting the Westside Verdugo criminal street gang, are displayed during a press conference at the San Bernardino Police Station, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, in San Bernardino, Calif. Authorities have announced the takedown of a Southern California street gang that included 180 arrests and the seizure of illegal gambling machines, drugs and guns. (Watchara Phomicinda/The Orange County Register via AP)

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — Authorities on Thursday announced the takedown of a Southern California street gang that included 180 arrests and the seizure of illegal gambling machines, drugs and guns.

The investigation into the violent Westside Verdugo gang, which has been based in the San Bernardino area for decades, also helped detectives solve two homicides, authorities said.

David Green, police chief in the city of San Bernardino, announced the arrests in a news conference with California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Jason Anderson, the county’s district attorney.

“Members and associates of this gang have committed violent crimes in San Bernardino with no regard for the people in the community who are directly or indirectly harmed,” Bonta said in a statement.

The 180 people arrested include 129 convicted felons, 40 people who are on probation and 12 on parole, Green said in an email.

Investigators on Wednesday executed 34 search warrants in San Bernardino County, officials said. They arrested 31 people and seized 11 firearms.

The probe also targeted the gang’s illegal gambling parlors, which allegedly brought in tens of thousands of dollars weekly, authorities said in a statement.

Detectives shut down 30 gambling sites — including some linked to five homicides and other violent crimes this year— and seized more than 100 gambling machines and devices, officials said in the statement.

Authorities also said they seized 92 handguns and 19 assault weapons, nearly $300,000 in cash and hundreds of pounds of narcotics.

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