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Operation Duck Pond nets stolen guns, cars, property

July 19, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A big crackdown in Riverside County: weapons seized, stolen property recovered and dozens of people arrested in an undercover operation. It was dubbed Operation Duck Pond, and it was a major crime-fighting effort in the city and county of Riverside that went on for four months in secret. The results of Operation Duck Pond were announced Thursday.

Perhaps one of the most shocking things revealed Thursday was the fact that very few of the suspects belong to any official gang. But the Riverside Police Department says that isn't stopping those suspects from selling stolen cars and stolen guns on the streets of Riverside. Many weapons were bought by undercover cops.

"To be clear, as you can see the weapons that we are talking about here, these are not toy guns, these are serious, violent and deadly weapons capable of maiming, injuring law enforcement officers and the residents of this district," said Andre Birotte Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.

While some suspects are still on the loose, most of the people who sold the guns are in custody. Undercover officers say they succeeded in buying 26 stolen weapons and recovered 44 stolen vehicles. Forty-two arrests were made.

In cop talk, a stolen car is often referred to as a "duck," hence the mission's name, Operation Duck Pond.

"Oftentimes as police officers or as p rosecutors, we're reactive: a crime happens and we respond. This is a perfect example of those of us being more proactive and stemming criminal conduct," said Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach.

But while Operation Duck Pond won't end this criminal conduct, Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz hopes it does highlight the effectiveness of his undercover police unit.

"You come into our city and sell a stolen gun or a stolen car, there may be a cop on the other end of that transaction, and you won't know right away -- a few weeks later, a few months later they'll come and pick you up," said Diaz.

Of the 52 suspects targeted, 10 are still on the loose. Three of them are juveniles. Two of the seven adults are wanted on federal charges.

The Riverside Police Department has one of the largest undercover police contingents in the area.

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