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Rialto Drug Probe Yields 206 Arrests

The six-month investigation concludes with videotaped street sales, weapons seizures and arrests of two murder suspects.

May 08, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

After a six-month narcotics investigation, Rialto police detectives on Wednesday announced that their operation has netted 206 drug arrests along with the recovery of 31 weapons and caches of rock cocaine, heroin, marijuana and PCP.

An eight-person crime team, which included undercover members of the Ontario Police Department and San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, focused on street sales in the city. Investigators videotaped 108 of the drug buys and arrested two murder suspects.

"These guys were conducting business without a worry in the sky," Rialto Police Lt. Joe Cirilo said. "Today's operation showed we are here, paying attention, and some of these drug dealers who've got away with things in the past will now never know if they are being [watched] or if they will show up on videotape."

"Operation Hand to Hand With the Man" ended with 53 felony arrests Wednesday. There were 44 narcotics search warrants served, with confiscated weapons including sawed-off shotguns, handguns and an assault rifle.

Five pounds of marijuana and several ounces of cocaine also were seized, police said.

Rialto Police Sgt. Randy DeAnda, who directed the team, said the operation's intent wasn't to secure massive amounts of drugs but to seek harsh sentences, of 18 to 30 months, for street dealers.

"We were addressing the city's high crime and gang areas, the blight and complaints from those living around it," DeAnda said. "We have to continue our aggressiveness, but this will definitely have an impact."

The use of videotape "will enhance the prosecution," DeAnda said.

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