SWAT teams search Santa Ana cyber cafe on suspicion of gang activity

OCRegister 1 month ago

Police in Santa Ana questioned several people after serving a search warrant at a 24-hour computer gaming lounge in Santa Ana on Thursday, Sept. 13.

SWAT teams searched the Happy Times Cyber Internet  Cafe at 1117 17th Street at about 3:30 p.m. while police questioned dozens of people in an adjacent parking lot after receiving multiple complaints of suspicious activity from nearby residents, according to Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, a spokesman for the Santa Ana Police Department.

He said that over the past two weeks police had arrested several parolees and documented gang members in the area of the cafe, five of whom were in the possession of handguns. The business had been open for less than a year, according to a man who lives down the street from raided building.

Santa Ana police investigate the scene at Happy Times Cyber Internet cafe on the 1100-block of 17th Street in Santa Ana on Thursday, September 13, 2018 after the police raided the cafe that is suspected of being a front for gang activity. The window at right was broken out during the raid. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

People detained in connection with a Santa Ana police raid at Happy Times Cyber Internet cafe on the 1100-block of 17th Street in Santa Ana on Thursday, September 13, 2018 are handcuffed as they wait to be questioned. The cafe is suspected of being a front for gang activity. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • Santa Ana police question a woman detained in connection with a police raid at Happy Times Cyber Internet cafe on 1100-block of 17th Street in Santa Ana on Thursday, September 13, 2018. The cafe is suspected of being a front for gang activity. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Santa Ana police question a man detained in connection with a police raid at Happy Times Cyber Internet cafe on 1100-block of 17th Street in Santa Ana on Thursday, September 13, 2018. The cafe is suspected of being a front for gang activity. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • “Things have been crazy ever since that place has been here,” according to Daniel Avalos, 22. He said his father’s truck had been stolen about two months ago less than a block away from the gaming lounge, and that “there’s people screaming at I don’t know who or what at two or three in the morning.”

    Two recent patrons of the business who happened to be passing by, Marcus McBride and Vera Romo, said they had seen people argue over debts there, but they had never witnessed anything violent or seen anyone brandish a gun.

    Bertagna declined to comment on the legality of the business’s operations. Attempts to reach owners of the business were not immediately successful.

    Bertagna said a total of 54 people were interviewed by police. Many had been released, but by Thursday evening at least five suspects were expected to remain in custody, and Bertagna said he expected that number to grow by Friday.

    Other details surrounding the raid were not immediately available.

    The search shut down a section of 17th street from Towner Street to Rosewood Avenue between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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