Authorities bring gang crackdown in response to attacks on city
HEMET — Twenty-three arrests were leveled against gang members by various law enforcement agencies in the past week, part of a crackdown on at least three known attacks on local police.
Along with the arrests, which included 17 felony arrests, police recovered 12 handguns, three rifles, numerous martial arts weapons, gas masks, drugs and narcotics paraphernalia during the raids.
Thirty-five locations were targeted in the raids, conducted by federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies. They served several search warrants throughout Riverside County as part of an active investigation into a series of crimes against the city of Hemet.
On New Year’s Eve, a gas line at the Gang Task Force building was rerouted and rigged to possibly explode. Two months later, a gun was attached to a gate at the same site, firing a single shot and missing an officer. Two weeks after that, a potentially deadly device was attached to an officer’s vehicle, but fell off in a parking lot.
Police are also investigating two fires that may be related.
Patrick Nugent was charged with six felonies, including gang membership and manufacturing an undetectable firearm. Others charged with felonies on Monday were Joseph Zito, 29, of Hemet, who was charged with possession of a firearm; and James Tielen Sr., who was charged with drug possession, receiving stolen property and a parole violation.
Some 200 law enforcement officers and support personnel participated in the operation.
Despite the arrests and property recovery, city officials said that no arrests have been made in connection with the attacks. City officials have reminded community members that $200,000 is still being offered for information leading to the arrests.