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Calif. cops nab members of booby-trapping gang

Three booby-trap attacks on anti-gang officers led to the arrests of Vagos members

The Associated Press

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Three booby-trap attacks on an anti-gang task force in Southern California prompted the arrests of about 30 members of California's largest motorcycle gang, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Members of the Vagos were arrested as part of the crackdown in Riverside and Shasta counties in California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah after the attacks on police in Hemet, Calif.

"In the last few months, they've gotten our attention. Today we gave them some attention back," Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco said. "Our goal is to eliminate the significant threat to law enforcement that the Vagos represent."

Pacheco declined to detail evidence he said links the Vagos to those stealth attacks because the investigation was ongoing. But he described the ambush devices as insidious and cowardly.

On Dec. 31, someone drilled a hole in the roof of the gang unit's headquarters and diverted a natural gas line from a heater, filling the space with flammable gas. The trap was discovered before anyone was hurt.

Last month, a gun rigged to shoot when a headquarters security gate was opened sent a bullet whizzing past an officer. Again, nobody was hurt.

The third incident involved the discovery of a dangerous device near an officer's car.

Pacheco said the Vagos specialize in methamphetamine sales, weapons trafficking and violence, particularly toward law enforcement officers.

About 400 heavily armed police, sheriff's deputies and federal agents visited 73 locations early Wednesday in search of 94 gang members. They seized weapons and illegal drugs. Prosecutors said a meth lab was found at the home of one gang member in Lake Elsinore.

Officials said there are about 600 Vagos in the Western U.S., including about 200 in Riverside County, where the gang was started in the late 1960s.

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