Destruction of the Inland Empire gang leads to 17 arrests, the confiscation of 55 weapons and narcotics busts

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) – A massive gang operation across the Inland Empire resulted in a total of 17 arrests and the confiscation of 55 firearms, several pounds of drugs and more than $60,000 in cash.

Dubbed “Walk in the Park,” the operation was the culmination of a multi-agency effort following investigations into two 2020 murders.

“We call operations something that’s relative to the case itself,” Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez said. “Unfortunately, in this case, a person was murdered in a park in our city.”

The investigation began on December 22, 2020 after 32-year-old Cedric Dempsey was found shot to death in Bordwell Park in the town of Riverside.

As detectives worked the case, they determined that a vehicle seen near the shooting matched the description of a vehicle seen near a Moreno Valley homicide earlier in the year.

In this case, 43-year-old Kevin Henderson was found shot dead outside his home.

“Just moments before, he was holding his three-day-old son,” said Misty Reynolds, chief deputy of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. “He was sitting on the porch of his house.”

Reynolds said Henderson was an innocent victim and was mistakenly attacked by gang members as part of retaliation against a rival gang.

The Riverside Police Department and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department later enlisted the help of the Riverside County Attorney’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, and the California Department of Justice’s Special Operations Unit to coordinate their efforts.

More than a year and a half later, on May 6, 2022, investigators arrested 32-year-old Darnell Tate of Moreno Valley for his alleged involvement in the Henderson murder.

Two weeks later, investigators arrested Riverside resident Arthur Akins, 50, for alleged involvement in both murders.

Then, on May 25, 2022, officers from multiple agencies served 21 search warrants in Riverside, Rialto, Alhambra, San Bernardino Victorville, Bellflower, Moreno Valley, Grand Terrace, Corona, Hesperia, Highland, Fontana and Perris.

Nine other arrests were made, ten handguns, three rifles and six “ghost guns” were seized, along with a large amount of drugs and cash.

“This is not the plot of a Netflix crime series,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “These are real arrests, these are real confiscations, these are real takedowns.”

A spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office said Akins has already been charged with Dempsey’s murder.

Sheriff’s Department officials said charges are pending regarding his alleged involvement in Henderson’s murder.

The largest gun seizure of the operation took place in April, when investors arrested 37-year-old Riverside resident John Wrinkle for allegedly operating a milling machine, colloquially known as a 3-D printer, to create ghost guns.

A search of his property found 11 rifles and shotguns and 28 handguns. Detectives said they also seized two pounds of fentanyl pills and over 50 pounds of marijuana.

Gonzalez said the number of gun detectives encountered in recent years has been overwhelming.

“For us it was about 250 [guns seized] in 2019, over 600 in 2020 and over 900 last year in 2021,” he said. “We will probably top that this year. The amount of guns we take off the streets is nearly doubling every year.”

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved. Destruction of the Inland Empire gang leads to 17 arrests, the confiscation of 55 weapons and narcotics busts

Laura Coffey

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