8 arrested, drugs seized in operation targeting 'Lopers' gang in Santa Ana

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Several suspected gang members were arrested and drugs were seized following a large operation targeting the "Lopers" gang in Santa Ana.

In the dark of early morning, the Santa Ana police SWAT team converged on an apartment complex near the intersection of Standard Street and McFadden Avenue.

With guns drawn, officers served arrest warrants at three units simultaneously during the operation, which targeted the "Lopers." Eyewitness News went on an exclusive ride along.

Police say this large gang has been terrorizing Santa Ana neighborhoods.

"It's been one of the gangs that's caused a lot of trouble in the city," said Cpl. Matthew Lemmon. "We get a lot of complaints with the citizens that live in those areas."

The gang unit, probation, SWAT, the Orange County District Attorney's Office and the FBI teamed up to locate eight alleged gang members.

Among them was 20-year-old Salvador Vera.

"He's out on bail for two crimes at this time: a robbery and for firearm possession," Lemmon said.

Officers arrested Vera and the seven others at three locations. Each now face charges for selling drugs, conspiracy to commit a crime and gang enhancements. Officers then began searching the homes.

"Recent contacts with our patrol officers, with our gang detail, and we've seized firearms, several firearms this year," Lemmon said.

Officers found a rifle in a truck registered to Vera. They also found methamphetamine, cocaine and Xanax pills during the arrests. These are all drugs the police believe the gang is selling.

The task force says this operation should send a message to the gang and the community.

"We understand that it doesn't solve the problem long term. However, the important message is that we're not going to abandon the citizens that live in that area," Lemmon said.

Santa Ana police held a community meeting Wednesday night to explain the operation and address any further concerns from the neighborhood.
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