More arrests on horizon

Thursday, June 29, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin announced the arrests of nearly 50 people in Hemet-San Jacinto Valley. This was the successful culmination of a seven-month investigation, which the DA’s Gang Impact Team headed.

“Operation Valley Vigilance,” the name of the operation, still has search warrants and several arrest warrants outstanding in the Hemet and San Jacinto area.

Last Thursday, 24 people were arrested on a variety of charges — primarily involving weapons and drug-related crimes. Another 23 people have since been arrested as the result of the operation’s work.

The total number of people arrested is currently 47, but may increase. Six other suspects are wanted and still being sought for arrest, according to John Hall, the public information officer for the District Attorney’s Office.

Among the 47 arrests made, some involved murder charges. During the operation, 77 weapons and more than 4 pounds of drugs were seized, Hall reported in a release after the announcement.

“Prosecution of any state-filed charges will happen in Riverside County Superior Court, however there are some of those arrested who are already facing federal charges and others who could also face federal charges as the investigation continues,” Hall said in an email.

Hestrin joined other law enforcement and elected officials at an afternoon news conference in Hemet announcing the results of the operation. While commending all the local and federal partners involved in the operation, Hestrin warned those targeted in this operation, along with anyone who would bring this type of violence to Riverside County.

“We will be patient, we will be organized, and we will be coming for you. If not today, soon,” he said in the release.

The primary focus of the operation was to reduce crime and violence in the area while targeting organized crime, wanted felons, and those trafficking weapons and drugs.

The Task Force will not be disbanded, Hall said, “… there will be more enforcement actions and investigative assistance operations provided by the DA’s Gang Impact Team.”

An estimated 400 law enforcement officers from city, county and federal agencies were involved in the operation. The agencies in the Riverside County District Attorney’s Gang Impact Team are the DA’s Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Border Patrol; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General for Investigations; the FBI; the Hemet Police Department; and the Palm Springs Police Department, according to Hall.