The latest crackdown in Anaheim’s most entrenched street gangs has resulted in 33 arrested and the seizure of dozens of guns on the heels of weeks of street protests triggered by the fatal police shootings of two men.
The investigation, dubbed Operation Halo, involved more than 250 law enforcement officers who fanned out across Orange County and parts of L.A. County as the sun was coming up Friday.
The probe was aimed at Eastside Anaheim, a gang that police said has been highly active in crime in recent years.
Manuel Diaz, a 25-year-old man who was shot by police and whose image has been plastered on protest signs, was identified as a member of Eastside Anaheim and someone who would have been targeted during the sweep, authorities said.
Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said gangs such as Eastside Anaheim thrive off instilling fear of police in community members.
“If criminals realize residents are afraid of us, they exploit that,” Welter said.
Anaheim has seen a significant increase in both violent crime and officer-involved shootings this year, which police have attributed to gang activity. Welter hopes the raid will cut into the violence and is a first step in “recovery” for some of Anaheim’s most troubled neighborhoods.
Because of the protests and unrest in the city, authorities considered delaying the operation, but in the end they decided to carry it out.
“We can’t wait until another person gets shot,” Welter said.
More than 250 officers, some dressed in military fatigues, descended on 54 locations, arrested people on charges ranging from drug trafficking to homicide to unlawful possession of a firearm.