Authorities searching for wanted felons living in areas near Los Angeles schools arrested five people in a sweep operation conducted near Venice High School Wednesday, October 4th.

The sweep, conducted as part of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Strategy Against Violent Environments Near Schools (LA SAVES) program, also resulted in four children being placed in protective custody, city attorney officials said.

Authorities said they also confiscated weapons during the sweep, including a shotgun, a rifle, a handgun and a machete, as well as the illegal drugs methamphetamine and cocaine.

Under the LA SAVES program, law enforcement agencies identify felons on probation or parole who are living in areas around a target school within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

The agencies focus on those convicted of violent crimes and/ or firearms and sex offenses, and a computer search determines if any of the individuals are wanted by a court, according to City Attorney’s Office spokesman Frank Mateljan.

When a target area is identified, law enforcement officials then implement a strategy for arresting the wanted felons, he said.

The LA SAVES partnership, which is “a collaboration of several different agencies,” was organized in June last year by the City Attorney’s Office, Mateljan said.

The partnership was created to work in coordination with the City Attorney’s Office Safe School Zones effort, which has designated schools, bus stops and the area within 1,000 feet of schools as violence-free zones, with additional penalties for those who threaten the safety of children, city attorney officials said.

“It’s a way to enforce that [Safe School Zones] and create safer areas around schools,” Mateljan said of the program.

He said the neighborhoods within less than a two-mile radius of Venice High School in Mar Vista were the focus of the sweep operation conducted early Wednesday morning, October 4th.

During the operation, three teams of officers from the Los Angeles Police Department Pacific Community Police Station, the Los Angeles County Probation Department and the State Parole Board arrested five wanted felons, city attorney officials said.

The five suspects arrested included two parolees, one sex offender and two gang members, officials said. A warrant for arrest was also issued for one suspect who was not at home during the sweep, officials said.

All of the arrests were made without incident, Mateljan said.

Four additional suspects face charges for new parole violations after they provided invalid addresses, authorities alleged.

The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services also took part in the sweep effort by removing or opening new cases on nine children who were in dangerous living conditions, city attorney officials said.

“We feel it was a very successful operation,” Mateljan said. “We were able to recover several weapons and take five wanted felons out of the neighborhood and into custody.”

Authorities were also able to remove four children from potentially dangerous situations and, with the help of the Department of Children and Family Services, facilitate the transition of the children into protective custody, he said.

Since the start of the Safe School Zones project in June 2005, LA SAVES has conducted 15 operations around Los Angeles Unified School District campuses.

City attorney officials said that to date, the program has resulted in the arrest of 46 felons from Safe School Zones, the rescue and removal to protective custody of 49 children, and the confiscation of six firearms, narcotics and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Partners in the LA SAVES program include the Los Angeles County Probation Department, the juvenile and adult parole divisions of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles School Police, the Department of Children and Family Services and other law enforcement agencies.

The partners work together to identify and remove wanted felons from areas around Los Angeles schools.

The partnership coordinates the resources of the Probation Department’s Disarm Unit, which was created to track down wanted felons with the City Attorney’s Office and other county agencies, and concentrates on areas within Los Angeles Unified School District Safe School Zones.

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