67 Arrests in Crackdown of Inland Empire Gangs Linked to Mexican Mafia

A major crackdown in the Inland Empire netted dozens of suspected gang members who were involved in crimes ranging from theft and drugs to murder, and believed to be linked to the Mexican mafia, authorities said Thursday.

Fontana police joined forces with the Department of Justice and the California Highway Patrol to conduct a massive gang sweep and early morning raids.

Officers took 35 people into custody in San Bernardino County Thursday alone. Police say they're linked to violent street gangs that have ties to the Mexican mafia and are responsible for wreaking havoc in neighborhoods throughout the Inland Empire.

A total of 67 people have been taken into custody since this investigation began in July.

"Armed robberies, carjackings, murder, assault with weapons, narcotics sales. This has been going on for decades," said Fontana police Sgt. Kevin Goltara.

They're calling the round up Operation Bad Blood because the task force was formed after police noticed a rise in violence between rival gangs.

Before daybreak, the team made up of 350 law enforcement officials served more than 30 search warrants at homes throughout San Bernardino County. They confiscated 19 illegal weapons including handguns, shotguns, and assault rifles. They also confiscated drugs.

"We are targeting high-ranking members of the gangs and taking weapons and people off the street. Dope cases and paraphernalia are all part of this investigation," said San Bernardino County Supervising District Attorney Robert Bulloch.

Some of the arrests stemmed from a high-speed chase in December. Members of the task force had been doing surveillance on a home in Rialto when they witnessed a drive-by shooting. They chased after the car and eventually arrested seven people - including one who had been hiding in the trunk.

"We just happened to be in the right place at the right time," said Fontana police Lt. Doug Imhof.

The joint task force is funded by a $9.4 million grant aimed at reducing crime in California.

Authorities admit the operation certainly won't end gang violence but they're hoping to put a major dent in the violence seen on the street.

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