The L.A. County Sheriff’s department made 90 arrests on New Year’s Eve, and 325 in the month of December, as party-goers attended what the department called “super-spreader” events throughout the night.
Targeting vacant warehouses, hotels and shuttered businesses, more than 900 warnings were given out on New Year’s Eve, on top of the 90 arrests.
A total of six firearms were also retrieved by law enforcement, as the Sheriff’s “Super-Spreader Task Force” sought out the large gatherings throughout the city of Los Angeles, Hawthorne, Pomona and Malibu.
“I have made it clear that we will seek out and take law enforcement action against all ‘super-spreader’ events occurring anywhere within Los Angeles County,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said on January 1. “The goal of these enforcement actions is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the risk to our vulnerable populations.”
Villanueva later clarified that the LASD was not going into private homes during these raids and the large parties they targeted had the “potential” for human trafficking, as well as potential presence of guns and drugs.
The @LASDHQ COVID-19 Super-Spreader Task Force conducted operations in 5 separate locations last night.
90 adult arrests for health officer order violations. 900+ ppl warned/advised
6 guns recovered (4 pictured)
1 adult arrest for gun/drug crimes
VIDEO: https://t.co/ufb6d4TAwX https://t.co/T6uPWVqsk8 pic.twitter.com/B6EY2pLZGV
— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) January 1, 2021
Including the New Year’s Eve raids, the LASD found a total of 12 illegal firearms and one “at-risk juvenile,” who was categorized as a “commercially, sexually exploited child.”
“Parties like these often involve drugs, prostitution, underage drinking and violence,” Villanueva said in a December 8 press conference. “As you can see, this was a flagrant violation of the governor’s health order, but also please understand that even without the health order these actions were criminal in nature.”
The first of the task force’s crackdowns came in the first weekend of December in Palmdale, as a vacant home served as the scene for a large party where six weapons were recovered and a total of 158 arrests were made at that party, 35 being juveniles.
L.A. County, and its neighboring Southern California counties, have been under stay-at-home orders since December 6, after the region’s ICU capacity dropped below 15%.
Under the stay-at-home health orders, Angelenos could not gather with persons outside their own household – a request that L.A. Public Health begged Angelenos to uphold during the December holiday season.
“I want to acknowledge that we’re experiencing an explosive and very deadly surge and there’s urgency in our request that everyone do all that’s in their power to slow transmission and prevent additional suffering,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on December 16. “It’s simply too risky to mingle with others outside your household.”
The ICU capacity in Southern California has since been at maximum capacity, with the stay-at-home order being extended for an additional three weeks by Gov. Gavin Newsom, just before the 2020 year ended.