- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 10, 2017

MERCED, Calif. (AP) - Hundreds of law enforcement officers descended on a Northern California county Wednesday and arrested 49 suspected gang members and seized 120 firearms, including assault rifles and automatic weapons, California’s top prosecutor said.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra said 500 local, state and federal officers swooped into dozens of Merced County neighborhoods in pre-dawn raids targeting Sureno gang members.

“Some of the most violent criminals in our community have been taken off our streets along with many of the weapons they use to commit murder and mayhem,” said Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse.

Officers also confiscated $170,261 in cash and seized cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine with a street value of $1.7 million, Becerra said.

Becerra says the raids come after a year-long investigation of violent crimes involving Sureno gang members working for the Mexican Mafia prison gang. Investigators have arrested another 17 people and seized 117 firearms as part of the probe, Becerra said.

At least eight homicides and violent assaults have been solved, he said.

The operation was the result of a joint investigation by The California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation, the Merced Area Gang and Narcotic Enforcement Team, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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