INDIO - After an 18-month investigation, a team of law enforcement officers started serving search warrants at 450 locations throughout the Coachella Valley on Tuesday morning, according to Indio Police Department spokesman Ben Guitron.
Operation Eastern Encore targeted three gangs: the Southside Gang, Jackson Terrace Gang and the Campo Gang. All of them were based in Indio, La Quinta and Coachella.
As of 10 a.m., the Riverside County Sheriff's Association reported 71 arrests had been made and $100,000 in cash had been recovered.
In all 42 federal, state and local agencies were involved in the early morning action, said Guitron, which was designed to crackdown on rising gang violence in the Indio and Coachella areas. About 1,000 law enforcement officers continued to serve warrants late morning.
"This is bigger than Operation Falling Sun," said Guitron, referring to the massive gang crackdown in Desert Hot Springs in March of 2009. "This is the biggest crackdown in county history."
Some residents reported seeing a surge of law enforcement in several neighborhoods. Flash-bang grenades, used to disorient targeted individuals, were said to have been heard off Calhoun Street, near Dr. Carreon Boulevard.
A news conference has been scheduled for early afternoon. KESQ.com and News Channel 3 will be there to bring you the latest.