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An illegal party in Los Angeles County led to 158 people being arrested. The superspreader event violated local stay-at-home orders, in addition to being a party in an abandoned house attended by minors.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a news conference that organizers broke into the home and delivered equipment to it with a rental truck.
"This is how brazen this operation was," he said of the event, which police knew about ahead of time. "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."
The failed party was attempted in Palmdale, northeast of Los Angeles. Villanueva said the party was part of a network of illegal parties being thrown throughout the country. In addition to the people arrested at the party, authorities uncovered guns and a 17-year-old who was being sex trafficked. Villanueva described her as a "commercially sexually exploited child."
"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," he said. "She would have been passed down to the next party."
Other sources in the LASD said that the child was found by "chance" and officers were "unaware" of the girl's prescence at the event. The sheriff's office has been criticized for not intervening ahead of the event and opting to allow the gathering to kick off.
“Allowing it to begin, fill up with people and then roll in and make arrests is simply grandstanding and unnecessarily exposing those attendees and your own deputies,” a source from within the LASD told the Los Angeles Times.