Raids Net 625 Pounds of Cocaine and 158 Arrests

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles police seized 140 pounds of cocaine and arrested 148 people, many of them gang members, in a three-day crackdown on drug-trafficking "hot spots" throughout the city, officials said Friday.

A separate investigation led police to a home in the exclusive community of Palos Verdes Estates and the arrests Thursday evening of 10 suspected drug traffickers and the seizure of 485 pounds of cocaine, according to Torrance police.

The Los Angeles undercover operation, carried out by the department's Gang Related Active Trafficker Suppression (GRATS) unit, included a sweep through gang turf just west of downtown and the arrest of a suspected mid-level supplier of rock cocaine to South-Central Los Angeles gangs, a spokesman said. In addition, police made arrests aimed at curbing "blatant and conspicuous" street sales of narcotics in South Los Angeles residential neighborhoods, and undercover officers purchased drugs throughout the city, resulting in 85 of the arrests.

On Wednesday, officers arrested 21 adults and 3 juveniles, all suspected members of a gang that roams the streets just west of downtown, on suspicion of selling PCP and other lesser violations. Officers also served a search warrant in the 2900 block of 76th Street, where they arrested three men, including a street gang drug supplier, and seized 132 pounds of cocaine.

On Thursday, officers targeted street narcotics sales in southern and western portions of the city, including San Pedro and Baldwin Hills. There, officers arrested 35 people and seized 21 cars.

Nearly 50 of those arrested over the three-day period were identified by police as gang members. Half a dozen guns were confiscated.

Police said GRATS and other task forces targeting gangs have arrested almost 8,000 suspects this year, nearly half of them gang members. They have also closed 112 rock houses.

The South Bay operation, coordinated by several neighboring police departments, followed weeks of police surveillance, a Torrance police spokesman said.

Officers arrested two men Thursday and seized 100 pounds of cocaine after a drug exchange in a parking lot at the intersection of Anza Avenue and Torrance Boulevard in Torrance. Armed with a search warrant, officers then went to a house at 3721 Palos Verdes Drive North, where they seized 385 pounds of cocaine and arrested three other men. Each of the 10 men ultimately arrested is being held on $10-million bond, the spokesman said.

Police withheld the names of those arrested.

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