More than 150 people were arrested and a juvenile sex trafficking victim was rescued after Los Angeles County authorities shut down a massive underground party.
Deputies broke up the party Saturday night at a vacant home in Palmdale, northeast of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news conference on Tuesday that organizers broke into the home and used a rental truck to move their party equipment.
“This is how brazen this operation was,” Villanueva said, calling the party a “superspreader” event that could become a “deadly source of contagion” during the coronavirus pandemic.
“As you can see, this was a flagrant violation of the governor’s health order. But also please understand that even without the health order, these actions were criminal in nature,” he said.
Authorities arrested 158 people at the party, including 35 juveniles. A 17-year-old girl who Villanueva described as a “commercially sexually exploited child” was rescued from the home. Six guns were also recovered.
Villanueva said the department had received information that the party would be taking place. Authorities are tracking other large gatherings, he 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,” Villanueva said at a news conference. “She would have been passed down to the next party.”
Just days before the gathering, Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced a new regional stay-at-home order that will require bars, wineries, hair salons and other nonessential businesses to shut down for three weeks once a region’s intensive care capacity falls below 15 percent.
According to NBC News data, California has had one of the most significant surges in new Covid-19 cases in the country over the past few weeks.