San Bernardino County sheriff’s investigators closed a seven-month undercover fencing operation Saturday after making 246 arrests and buying about $20 million worth of hot property, spokesmen said.
Detectives set up a storefront fencing operation under the guise of a trucking company, dealing with as many as 280 alleged thieves and illegal drug traffickers, said department spokesman Jim Bryant.
Ninety-six people were arrested Saturday, about 60 weapons were seized, two methamphetamine labs were closed and about $43,000 in cash was confiscated as officers staged raids throughout the area, Bryant said.
Undercover investigators had worked since August out of a company they named Tri State Liquidators, paying about $1.2 million for property valued at up to $20 million, he said.
“Our men paid about 4 cents on the dollar,” Bryant said. “We kept recycling the cash after we made arrests along the way.”
Detectives were careful to avoid making arrests that could be traced back to Tri State fencing deals. But Bryant said the operation was shut down and the final series of arrests began Saturday because targets of the sting began to suspect it was a law enforcement operation.
Deputies arrested 150 alleged thieves before Saturday, closing the books on 492 crimes in the High Desert area as well as in Long Beach, Barstow, Palm Desert, Baldwin Park and Bakersfield.