Los Angeles deputies arrest 158 people in raid on underground house party | US news

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Nearly 160 people were arrested when authorities in Los Angeles county raided an underground house party over the weekend, officials reported on Monday.

Deputies with the LA sheriff’s department were tipped off on the giant gathering, which was held in a vacant residential home without the knowledge of the property’s owners, with reports that many inside weren’t wearing masks.

The party, which was located in the high desert city of Palmdale in the northern part of LA county, is one of many incidents that have occurred in recent months in direct violation of the county and state mandated social distancing orders.

Of the 158 people arrested at the party, 35 were underage. Organizers of the event, who were among those arrested, had also held parties in two other cities where they entered empty homes. Officers also discovered six weapons and rescued a 17-year-old human trafficking victim during the raid.

“Even without the health order, these actions were criminal in nature,” said the Los Angeles sheriff, Alex Villanueva, during a Tuesday news conference. A statement released by the department also noted that these parties “typically involve drugs, alcohol, weapons, minors and prostitution”, and that the criminal behavior is complicating efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Villanueva vowed to crack down harder on “super-spreader” events, and instructed officers to prioritize that above enforcing county orders at restaurants or other small businesses that have been struggling to stay afloat.

Sheriff’s Lt Paul Zarris told the local news station KTTV that the department hopes to send a message to other party planners with the massive arrest. “We just want to make sure that this doesn’t happen, especially in our area, Zarris said. “We’ll let them know that this is not acceptable”.

Alex Villanueva
(@LACoSheriff)

Since March we have continued to focus on education and voluntary compliance regarding health orders. Moving forward, we will additionally be conducting targeted enforcement on super-spreader events.


December 4, 2020

Los Angeles county has been among the hardest hit by Covid in California, and the county broke a devastating record the same weekend the party was held – a new high of 10,528 new cases in a single day, last Sunday. The weekly average positivity rate is now above 10%, according to reports from the county public health department, and across the southern California region only about 10% of ICU capacity remained available. The numbers are expected to rise.

Roughly 33 million people are now under California’s new regional stay-at-home order, but officials have struggled to convince residents to comply. Just over half of Angelenos say they have stayed at home except for essential activities and exercise, according to a survey done by University of Southern California, and that number has been consistent since June.

The Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, announced in August that the city would go to greater efforts to crack down on house parties, and even authorized shutting off water and power to homes where events were being held. “These large house parties have essentially become nightclubs in the hills,” Garcetti told the Guardian then.

In one of the most high-profile incidents, Los Angeles authorities cracked down on the residence of the YouTube star Jake Paul, who threw a large party in the celebrity-filled Calabasas area, which he broadcast to his 20 million followers. In the early morning on 5 August, FBI agents and a Swat team served a search warrant at Paul’s mansion, and pulled out several rifles from the property, but no arrests were made.

“It’s just a big huge disregard for everything that everybody is trying to do to get things back to functioning,” Alicia Weintraub, the mayor of Calabasas, told local TV news, Fox 11, at the time. “It’s really just a party acting like Covid does not exist; it’s acting that businesses aren’t closed.”

Agencies contributed reporting

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Los Angeles deputies arrest 158 people in raid on underground house party | US news

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