An array of assault rifles, handguns and dozens of boxes full of ammunition were among the items seized last month by a Contra Costa County gun violence prevention task force.
In May alone, the Contra Costa County Anti-violence Suppression Effort, or CASE, made more than a dozen arrests and took more than 50 illegal firearms as well as a large cache of ammunition, according to sheriff's officials.
During a search at a Bay Point home last month, CASE seized 56 firearms and arrested five people on suspicion of weapon and drug charges, according to the sheriff's office.
"In all my years in the sheriff's department, I have never seen a haul of this size," said Lt. Ted Anderson, a 27-year sheriff's office veteran, gesturing to a long table lined with guns at a news conference in Martinez this afternoon.
The task force, established in August 2011, is composed of officers from the sheriff's office, the California Highway Patrol, California Department of Justice and the Pittsburg Police Department with the shared goal of getting guns off of the street.
Working together, the four involved agencies are able act more quickly on evidence found during routine patrol operations or domestic calls, sheriff's officials said.
Many of the firearms seized during CASE raids are available for purchase legally, but those with a history of violent criminal conduct are not allowed to own them.
That's where CASE comes in, Anderson said.
"We're bringing resources together to combat weapons and gun violence in Contra Costa County," said Brent Orrick of the California Justice Department. "We're targeting offenders who may have slipped through the cracks, but have gun violence history and are on parole or probation."
In one incident last month, a sheriff's deputy stopped a car for a routine violation and found an illegal assault rifle and two high-capacity magazines. Working with CASE, the sheriff's office was then able to get a search warrant for the suspects' home, where they also discovered more than a pound of methamphetamine.
In many of the investigations CASE conducts, suspects are arrested on both weapons and drug charges, officials said.
The task force also targets individuals who may not have a criminal history but who are barred from owning guns once the state has deemed them a danger to themselves or others due to a mental disorder, Orrick said.
Since its implementation, the task force has made 142 arrests.
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