Riverside Police Department Press Release


For Immediate Release

Date Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Contact Steven Frasher, Press Information Officer
Phone (951) 826-5147

Gang warrants

Riverside, Ca- The Riverside Police Department executed 31 simultaneous search warrants against members of an increasingly violent street gang, at locations in southwestern Riverside at 7 a.m., Tuesday morning, May 30, 2006. The operation was coordinated by the Riverside Police Special Investigations Bureau Gang Unit and involved 273 law enforcement officers, including 160 RPD officers.

Riverside Police Department does not release the names of criminal street gangs.

Members of the primarily Hispanic criminal street gang are in custody for the August 26, 2005, shooting homicide of Mike Anthony Swayne, 26, a member of a rival gang; others are suspects in another recent homicide that may be gang-related. Further details are not being released at this time pending the investigation. Members are also suspected of at attempted murder on Liverpool Lane in Riverside in April 2006, as well as other drive-by shootings, shots fired at police officers, assaults, arson and vandalism incidents.

“The escalating violence by members of this gang prompted the issuance of gang association warrants” following months of careful advance planning, said Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach. All 31 entries were made safely; 28 locations were in the West Policing Area of Riverside and one each in Corona, Rubidoux and Orangecrest.

There were four persons – one adult male, one adult female and two juvenile males – arrested during the sweep. Abecardo Varela, 44, was arrested for a parole violation; Irene Armas, 49, was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. The juveniles were arrested for possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. All four were cited and released.

Several firearms – 7 rifles, 4 shotguns, 9 pistols – were also confiscated.

Riverside Police Department teams were assisted by allied federal, state, county and local police forces, including the Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies, District Attorney and Probation officers; California Highway Patrol, State Parole, Department of Alcohol Beverage Control and the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement (BNE) agents; federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents; and members of the Corona, Hemet, Murrieta, Beaumont and Indio police departments.

Several of cooperating agencies are also components of the District Attorney’s newly-formed County-wide Gang Task Force.

“We had excellent response from allied agencies to the point we even had to turn some away,” said Lieutenant John Carpenter, commander of the Special Investigations Division.

The overall investigation continues.