Hundreds of officers conduct huge sweep for gang members in Southern California

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) - Law enforcement authorities fanned out across the city early Tuesday in a huge sweep of gang members aimed at taking down violent offenders.

More than 400 federal agents and local police officers took part in the campaign that started at around 4 a.m., said Mike Campbell, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The raids would be conducted throughout the day, Campbell said. He said the operation was one of the largest he had seen.

The effort was part of a wider crackdown that has taken place in recent months in cities nationwide and spearheaded by the U.S. Justice Department. It is aimed at gang members suspected of dealing drugs and committing violent crimes.

During one bust early Tuesday, agents charged through the front door of a house in a quiet residential neighborhood, setting off "flash-bang" grenades to stun suspects inside.

Authorities detained four people at the ranch house.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)