Los Angeles police and city leaders on Thursday said the arrests of more than two dozen alleged members of a drug ring that's plagued Skid Row for 30 years was the culmination of a months-long operation.
In a sweeping pre-dawn raid Thursday, 20 search warrants were served simultaneously at multiple locations, netting cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, guns, $1.8 million and the arrest of the alleged ringleader, Derrick Turner.
"Los Angeles will not tolerate anyone who preys on some of the most vulnerable people we have in this city," Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
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LAPD Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph has patrolled Skid Row for 18 years. He points to the $600,000 in one dollar bills in this case as proof the predators preyed on the weak.
"You'll have an addict trying to benefit from a drug problem and sometimes you have the drug dealer outside or slipping inside the drug program, and the temptation to fail in Skid Row is too great," Joseph said.
On Thursday, he said there's a different feeling on Skid Row, an optimism he says he hasn't seen in a long time.
"It was wonderful to see many members of the community to come up to us, kissing us on the cheek and saying thank you," Joseph said.
But cautious optimism from the chief, who says the arrests were only a small step of a bigger plan.
"This by no means is the end of narcotics use on Skid Row, but it is the beginning of stopping it," Beck said.