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December 10, 2020 -- Nearly 160 people were arrested over the weekend when Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies raided an “underground party.”

"This was a flagrant violation of the governor's health order," Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news briefing, according to ABC News. He added that, “even without the health order, these actions were criminal in nature."

The party occurred at a burglarized vacant house in Palmdale, in the northern part of the county. The organizers advertised the party and used a rental truck to move in video cameras and other party equipment, he said.

“That’s how brazen this operation was,” Villanueva said.

Arrested were 120 adults and 38 juveniles, including the organizers of the event, three 18-year-olds and two 17-year-olds, the sheriff said.

Everyone in attendance was cited for violating coronavirus safety regulations. Five people were charged with burglary, one with possession of a firearm and one with obstruction, he said. Officers also seized six firearms and rescued a 17-year-old girl who was a victim of human trafficking, the sheriff said.

The raid occurs as California as a whole, and Los Angeles in particular, grapples with the surging coronavirus pandemic.

More than 8,000 people have died in the Los Angeles County of coronavirus-related reasons, with 64 new deaths and 8,547 new positive cases reported Tuesday, L.A. Public Health tweeted. Overall, more than 466,000 cases have occurred in the county.

L.A. County recently went under a stay-at-home order triggered when hospital ICU capacity dipped below 15%. The new law, announced last week by Gov. Gavin Newsom, shuts down indoor dining, prohibits large gatherings, and requires people to stay home except when seeking essential services.

Villanueva said the sheriff’s office has been concentrating on “super-spreader” events.

"We don't have unlimited resources," he said, according to ABC. "This is something that is worth spending our resources to clamp down on because these super-spreader events, if we get rid of them, we're going to improve our ability to fight the pandemic on a whole scale."

The sheriff said about half a dozen underground parties like this are held on a weekly basis and that the organizers of this event also promoted parties in nearby towns the same weekend.

Show Sources

ABC News. “158 people arrested for coronavirus violations at 'massive underground party' in LA County: Authorities”

LA Public Health Twitter

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