HEMET - Hemet police arrested 23 people today while serving search warrants in at least 35 locations countywide as part of an investigation into recent attacks on police and city facilities.
About 200 law enforcement personnel from federal, state, county and city agencies took part in today's raid, which also yielded 16 firearms, along with other evidence and contraband, Hemet police Capt. Dave Brown said.
As of this afternoon, no charges have been filed in connection with the ongoing investigation into a series of attacks on city and police facilities.
The operation came about a week after the Hemet City Council gave the city manager emergency purchasing power to outfit police with whatever equipment, resources and personnel were deemed necessary to combat the attacks that have put police on the defensive.
The most recent attack occurred April 12, when a fire damaged a mobile home used for police training. Police said they believe the blaze was connected to a series of life-threatening acts that started with someone rerouting a natural gas line into a gang task force building on New Year's Eve.
"Intelligence reports indicate that the police facility (station) is the likely focus of future criminal acts," Brown wrote in a staff report to the City Council at the time of the fire.
In late March, four city code enforcement trucks were torched in the Hemet City Hall parking lot.
On March 5, a member of the Hemet/San Jacinto Gang Task Force found an explosive device attached to his unmarked patrol car when he pulled into a gas station in Hemet.
On Feb. 23, a member of the task force opened a gate at its headquarters and was nearly struck by a bullet discharged by a homemade "zip gun," which was rigged to fire when the gate moved.
Police have stopped short of blaming any one organization or even conceding that all the acts have been related.
Today's activity is the closest police have come to linking the acts.
"The purpose of this morning's operation was to obtain evidence and information related to the investigation," Brown said.
"As the investigators do their work throughout the day, we hope to obtain additional information that will help us accomplish our priorities: to identify and apprehend the individuals responsible for these crimes and stop the attacks," he said.
A confidential tip line has been set up to gather leads on the investigation. Call (951)765-3897 or email the police here.
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