Drugs, guns seized in Lancaster raids

Los Angeles Daily News

Drugs, guns seized in Lancaster raids

By Greg Botonis
Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 11, 2003 –

LANCASTER — Detectives investigating three shootings linked to a rivalry between two street gangs seized crack cocaine, two pounds of marijuana and $13,000 in cash at reputed gang members’ Lancaster homes.

Deputies and other law enforcement officers said they found the drugs, four handguns and cash when they searched 10 Lancaster homes. They arrested six men, a woman and a teenager. They took two young children into protective custody

“We took a good number of drugs off the street and four firearms, so it’s been a good day for law enforcement,” said Deputy District Attorney David Berger, Lancaster’s community prosecutor.

Investigators said the cocaine was found in a highly unusual hiding place: an outside water-heater closet with a pit bull chained to it. The dog was ferocious but they managed to move it, officials said.

The investigation began about three months ago after shootings believed to be related to rivalry between two gangs based in the San Fernando Valley with members in the Antelope Valley, too. One person died in the shootings, officials said.

Detective Bill Costleigh, a member of the Operation Safe Streets unit in Lancaster, gathered enough information to obtain search warrants for homes in central Lancaster on Cedar Avenue, 18th Street West, West Louise Avenue, 10th Street West and Spearman Avenue.

“It’s going to have a fairly significant impact on the community,” Berger said. “This is an area that has had a lot of complaints of narcotics transactions.”

Deputies said three of the four handguns they seized had been stolen from their rightful owners.

The eight were booked on charges including suspicion of possessing narcotics for sale, possessing firearms and possessing stolen property. One was arrested on suspicion of driving on a suspended or revoked license.

Investigators refused to say Tuesday whether any of the eight is a suspect in the slaying or the other two shootings.

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