Eight people were arrested after a SWAT team carried out a raid at a Santa Ana internet cafe Thursday afternoon as part of an investigation targeting gang activity and guns, authorities said.
Officers showed up in force at the Happy Times Cyber Internet Cafe along 17th Street, near Bristol Street.
Santa Ana Police Department Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said detectives suspect there's been more going on there than video games. Authorities began investigating two weeks ago after numerous complaints from residents and business owners about criminal activity in connection with the café.
"In the last 14 days, we've arrested multiple documented gang members for various crimes, five of which were in possession of firearms," he said. "Many of those, parolees or probationers in possession of firearms."
"We're using SWAT because of the large amount of weapons that we've gotten from people coming in and out of this location," Bertagna added.
Officers detained and questioned 54 people inside the business.
"They came in here with a speaker, saying it's a raid and I don't know what. To put your hands up," said one man who was questioned and released but wished to remain unidentified.
Many were promptly let go, but eight were arrested by the end of the night, Bertagna said.
Police did not release further information about those taken into custody, saying only that they were arrested either on suspicion of narcotics offenses or on outstanding warrants.
Officers also found several illegal gaming machines inside the business, and are now looking into that.
The investigation was first prompted by complaints from the community, officials said. Some passers-by stopped to cheer on the bust.
Marcus McBride, who was on his way into the business when the raid began, said he hasn't seen anything suspicious there.
"Just a lot of video game playing, you know, that’s it. Music, video game playing, and you redeem for prizes," he said.
But others who live in the area said it was drawing gangs, drugs and guns to their neighborhood.
"One of my neighbors said she came out and confronted somebody one night, and the guy just lifted his waistband and showed her a gun," one woman said.