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Corona gang sweep nets 52 arrests and $1.6 million in drugs, authorities say

Corona gang sweep nets 52 arrests and $1.6 million in drugs, authorities say
Sixty-seven firearms, including assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons, along with cash and drugs, were seized in a gang sweep in Corona on Thursday. (California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General)

A massive gang sweep in Riverside County resulted in the arrest of 52 people Thursday and the seizure of almost $1.6 million worth of drugs, according to authorities.

The raids targeted suspected members of the Corona Varrio Locos and the Mexican Mafia, according to police, and came in response to a spike in local crime. The operation involved more than 300 state and local officers.

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In addition to drugs, authorities also seized 67 firearms, including assault rifles and semiautomatic weapons, and more than $95,000 in cash, according to Corona police Sgt. Brent Nelson.

"Corona was the major city targeted," Nelson said. "Our violent crime rate in Corona went up. Our investigation has been months in the making."

The recent crimes included robberies, extortion and a fatal stabbing at Corona City Park, he said.

"Those cases brought everything together so that we could tie it into one group," he said. "Through the investigation, that's where the conspiracies to commit murder, drug trafficking and drug violations came into place."

The police department worked with multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Riverside County Sheriff's gang task force and the California Department of Justice's Bureau of Investigation Special Operations Unit.

"When a gang comes into our communities, law enforcement has a duty to protect our city and our neighborhoods," Nelson said.

The Corona Varrio Locos operate in the city of Corona and the surrounding areas of the Inland Empire, authorities said. The Mexican Mafia operates within the California prison system.

The investigation into gang activities is ongoing.

Twitter: @alexiafedz

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