A law enforcement sweep targeting Riverside’s oldest, most notorious street gang netted 45 arrests and the seizure of 63 guns, authorities announced Friday.

A six-month investigation conducted by Riverside police and personnel from the California Department of Justice culminated in members of the Eastside Riva being taken into custody this week, facing charges of attempted murder, assault, robbery, firearms trafficking, conspiracy, narcotics dealing and gang activity, according to Riverside police Chief Sergio Diaz.

“The primary message we wish to convey to our residents is that the Riverside Police Department is committed to working tirelessly to ensure that violent crime is addressed and that its victims can find a measure of justice,” Diaz said. “When violent gangsters are removed from our streets, the entire community is able to peaceably enjoy our city’s freedoms.

“Most importantly, children can learn and develop and play without the fear of being victimized in any neighborhood. All of us in the criminal justice system have an absolute obligation to provide that peace and those opportunities to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.”

Diaz joined Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra in announcing the results of the anti-gang crackdown, dubbed “Operation Eastbound & Down.”

“This operation and the tremendous impact it will now have on this violent criminal street gang is another example of what can be achieved when law enforcement agencies on the local, state and federal level work together,” Hestrin said. “The criminal street gang targeted in this operation has victimized our community for far too long. Fighting gang violence has been and will continue to be a priority for my office.”

The Eastside Riva has been an active criminal organization, entrenched on the city’s east end, going back a century, according to law enforcement officials.

Gang members have been involved in numerous killings, engaging in street warfare with other gangs over territory. In 2007, the District Attorney’s Office procured its first permanent gang injunction against ESR, which then numbered more than 700 known or suspected participants.

According to the Department of Justice, a surge in criminal activity followed the release of some ESR members from prison.

“No community should be plagued by violence and street crime,” Becerra said. “This week’s coordinated action … is an essential component in fulfilling our public safety responsibilities.

The District Attorney’s Office will be handling the prosecutions and releasing the names of those charged in the coming days.

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