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$200K reward for Hemet Police booby-trap info

March 18, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Is law enforcement being targeted by gang members in Riverside County? Investigators say a building was booby-trapped and there have been at least three attempted attacks on police.Investigators say those responsible for the attempted attacks on police are more like a criminal syndicate than street-gang members. And a big reward is being offered for information leading to their arrests.

The Riverside County District Attorney says the city of Hemet is ground zero when it comes to gang activity in the county.

"This is not a typical street gang out that's hanging out on the street corner slinging rock cocaine," said Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco. "This is an organized criminal enterprise that has definite goals, particularly as it relates to violent crime against law enforcement."

Thursday, Pacheco was joined by California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who announced a total reward of $200,000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

"I am very deeply concerned anytime there's an attack on law enforcement. It is incredible and I think unprecedented that police officers in the line of duty could be subjected to these kind of terrorist attempts on their lives," said Brown.

The first such attack was on December 31. Gang members rigged a gang task-force building in Hemet to blow up by rerouting a gas line, filling the building with natural gas. No one was hurt.

Then almost two months later, the building's front gate was rigged with another booby trap. This time a gun was set up to fire on the first officer to enter the building. The bullet narrowly missed the officer, and again, no one was hurt.

Then just a couple of weeks ago, a third attack. This time a pipe bomb was attached to an unmarked squad car. The bomb unit was called in, the device was rendered safe, and again, no one was injured.

But who knows what might happen if there's a next time? Hemet Police Chief Richard Dana doesn't want to find out.

"There's a person or people out there, or a bunch of idiots, that are trying to do damage to us," said Dana. "We mean to catch them, we mean to see them spend the rest of their life in jail."

Call Hemet Police at (951) 765-3897 with any information on the attacks.

Pacheco says he's confident he'll have those responsible under arrest within 30 days.