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Grandmother among those arrested in Riverside street gang sweep

August 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Authorities in Riverside conducted a gang sweep on Wednesday that netted 20 people, including the arrest of a grandmother.

A total of 36 arrest warrants, 19 state search warrants and 21 probation and parole searches were handled by Riverside police, agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, Corona police, the Riverside County Gang Task Force and other agencies.

It was an early morning wakeup call that a number of alleged gang members were not expecting. By mid-morning, members of one of the most dangerous street gangs in Riverside were in custody.

Police said by the time "Operation Tampa Bay" was over, nearly one-third of the 1200 Blocc Crips street gang will no longer be roaming the city's eastside.

"Is this a mortal blow to this gang? Probably not, they're resilient. But it is important for us to keep the pressure on them," said Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz.

Diaz said the suspects arrested include people of all ages, men and women, even a grandmother who allegedly sold drugs to undercover officers during the operation.

"They're violent people, they're not people who get up and go to a normal job," said Sgt. Chad Milby of the Riverside Police Department. "Their normal job for them is to get up, go and sell drugs and participate in violent crime."

The 147-member, all-black street gang has been involved in deadly assaults, drug trafficking, store robberies and home invasions. Police said the gang has terrorized Riverside's eastside for decades. People familiar with the neighborhood know its problems well.

"That's why I had to move away, because I had to get out of here, there's just too much going on," said Tiona Gipson of Riverside.

Police hope that after the raid, one in which several weapons were also seized, the neighborhood is and feels safer.


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