Several agencies announced results of a crackdown on crime in the Inland Empire focusing on stolen cars, illegal gun sales and drugs. Agents have arrested 42 of the 52 suspects: nine of them have documented ties to local gangs; several of the suspects are repeat offenders; two of them are teenagers. Jacob Rascon reports from Riverside for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 19, 2012.
A 10 percent spike in car thefts in Riverside last year prompted an investigation that has collared nearly all of the suspects believed to be involved in the operation.
“The people in Riverside are a lot safer today,” said Chris Schaffen of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. "We're not going to stop."
Agents from local, state and federal agencies combined on the operation. One Riverside police officer posed as a drug and arms dealer. He did plenty of business.
“Any time we get these AK47s or SKS's, it feels good to me to get those weapons off the street,” said the agent, who remained anonymous.
Agents have arrested 42 of the 52 suspects: nine of them have documented ties to local gangs; several of the suspects are repeat offenders; two of them are teenagers.
"We seem to deal with the same folks over and over," said Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz.
The sting also netted 44 stolen vehicles and 26 illegal firearms – including several sawed-off shotguns and AK47s, officials said.
“It's essential that we do everything that we can to get these weapons off the black market,” said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte, Jr.
Authorities are distributing photos of the 10 suspects still at large in the hopes someone recognizes them or they surrender.