Dozens of people were detained Wednesday morning during the search of what was supposed to be a vacant commercial building in Hollywood.
A SWAT team with a search warrant related to narcotics sales and firearms and weapons violations entered the building in the 6300 block of Hollywood Boulevard about 3 a.m., Los Angeles Police Department Detective Meghan Aguilar said.
At least 19 people had been taken out of the building, Aguilar said just before 5 a.m. That number had grown to 59 nearly three hours later, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“No one is legally in there,” Aguilar said. “All of them are at the very minimum trespassing or possibly involved in larger criminal activity,” she said.
Officers were going through the multi-story building floor by floor in search of drugs, weapons and people who may have been squatting.
Vacating the building was also a matter of public safety, Aguilar said. “There is not electricity going to that building, but people were finding a way to bring electricity in there. Very dangerous as you’re well aware,” she said.
The building will be secured once detectives are finished with their search. “It is a very slow and meticulous process,” Aguilar said.
Some of the people detained, including Ramsey Barton, told KTLA they had no idea the building was supposed to be closed.
Barton said she was in the building with her fiance and some friends who were making music. “When they came in, me and my fiance had no idea what was going on,” Barton said.
The owner of the building may also be facing charges, Aguilar said. “He knew that there were code violations and that no one should be in that building."
Several of the people indicated to authorities that they had a lease and were paying money in order to stay in the building.
Authorities had been watching the building for about two months before getting the warrant, Aguilar said.