Police arrested more than 150 people and rescued one juvenile sex trafficking victim after Los Angeles authorities shut down a massive underground party conducted in Palmdale amid the coronavirus pandemic threat.
Deputies who arrived at the scene intervened with a Saturday night party inside a vacant home northeast of Los Angeles.
During a Tuesday news conference, Los Angeles County Sheriff, Alex Villanueva, said that organizers of the event broke inside the home and moved their party equipment using a rental truck. Villanueva said, “This is how brazen this operation was,” and called the party one of many “superspreaders” that could exponentially increase the number of infections in the country.
The sheriff added that the party was a clear violation of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s health order. Additionally, he said that even without the health order, the acts of the people involved were criminal in nature.
Police arrested 158 people who attended the party, including 35 juveniles. Authorities also rescued a 17-year-old girl who Villanueva said was a victim as a “commercially sexually exploited child.” They also discovered six guns at the event, NBC News reported.
Villanueva revealed that the department received information about the party taking place. He added that authorities were looking into similar large gatherings in the area. At a news conference, Villanueva said, “Had we done the normal approach, break up the party before, the same victim would have been taken to the next location, so this actually rescued her from that.”
Newsom introduced a new regional stay-at-home order just days before the party in an attempt to curb the surging spread of coronavirus cases in the region. The new policy would shut down bars, wineries, hair salons, and other nonessential business establishments for three weeks starting from the time that their intensive care unit capacities drop below 15%.
Statistics showed that California had had one of the sharpest increase of new COVID-19 cases in the United States in the last few weeks.