Days after pledging to target the events of the super-spread Corona virus, the Los Angeles County Sheriff announced the arrest of 158 people linked to a secret party in Palmdale, as officers recovered weapons, drugs and a victim of sexual trafficking.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that the deputies broke up a Saturday night party at a vacant house that the party organizers had stormed, describing the event as “a flagrant violation of the health order of the governor.”
Officers took six firearms from the scene and rescued a 17-year-old girl who Villanueva said was subjected to commercial sexual exploitation.
“If we had done the normal way, and separated the party before, the victim herself would have been taken to the next location, so this really saved her from that,” Villanueva said at a news conference. “She would have moved to the next party.”
The county and other areas in California underwent a stay-at-home order late Sunday in an effort to reduce the growing number of Covid-19 hospital admissions across the state. The orders, issued by the governor, went into effect after intensive care unit capacity fell to less than 15% in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley.
Villanueva said officers arrested 120 adults and 38 minors, including “the entire organization network.” He described the group as “evasive”.
Al-Sharif said that the organizers broke into the house and used a rented truck to transport their party equipment.
“That’s how impudent this process is,” Villanueva said.
Al-Sharif said the parties are always a problem, but during a pandemic, “they become a deadly source of infection and a highly prevalent event.”
The outdoor temperature was 26 degrees. Al-Sharif said, “This event would have included 500 people had we not dispersed it.” Even without the Health Order, he said, the participants’ actions were criminal in nature.
California Secretary of Health and Human Services Mark Galley said Tuesday that a record number of 10,500 patients have been hospitalized in the state. The number of new infections has also increased, as the number of daily cases has doubled in the past two weeks.
“From now on, we will additionally implement targeted enforcement on super distributor events,” Sherif tweeted.
Palmdale is a city located in the northeast of Los Angeles County.