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FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Police cruisers have been seen across Miami-Dade and Broward county, showing an active presence ahead of the annual “Wheels Up, Guns Down” ride-out.
In Broward, Florida Highway patrol was stationed at entry points to Interstate 95 and the Florida Turnpike to prevent packs of riders from weaving through high speed traffic and performing wheelies that have led to collisions and worse in years past.
Between the weekend and Monday, Broward Sheriff’s Office says at least 21 arrests were made and 24 ATV’s were seized.
CBS4 went along with BSO Sgt. Steven Handras on patrol Monday as he looked for riders ignoring the rules of the road.
“People have gotten hurt in the past and worse,” he says.
CBS4 saw a man arrested for driving an ATV down Oakland Park Boulevard.
“It’s not registered and ATV’s are not street legal,” Handras said.
Meanwhile further south, three off-road vehicles were taken by police at Miami-Dade College North Campus, and two people were arrested just before 5 p.m.
Police arrived at the campus when some ATV’s and motorcycles were gathered there. Five people were held for questioning.
Three were let go, as their vehicles were street-legal.
Those three riders are friends from Jacksonville who came down to Miami, they say, just for a fun ride.
But they quickly realized how dangerous it was.
“They stopped us because we crashed,” said Jeff Dana, one of the riders from Jacksonville. “Somebody pulled out in front of me and I just kind of got laid down.”
None of the riders were seriously hurt.
Police say that 14 people have been arrested since Friday, with eight of those including felony charges.
33 ATV’s and dirt bikes have been taken by police and four guns were confiscated.
“We have to take this matter seriously,” said Alvaro Zabaleta with Miami-Dade Police. “We have individuals that are popping wheelies. They are on one tire. With ATVs, they’re on two tires. This is dangerous for them. They can fall off and have fatal injuries.”
Dozens of ATV and dirt bike riders swarmed the streets of South Florida over the weekend, wreaking havoc and endangering drivers in the dangerous tradition.
Riders who take part say it is to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But police say not only is it dangerous, it’s illegal.
Law enforcement officers say they are closely monitoring the roads, looking for riders who take part in the yearly event.
CBS4 obtained cell phone video of a heated confrontation after Broward deputies stopped 26-year-old Duewayne Dixon, who was riding an ATV, in West Park Sunday afternoon.
Deputies said Jessie Hernandez, 39, and Francheska Turull, 37, interfered with their investigation involving the ATV rider, after being told to stay back. Investigators didn’t tell us if the three people knew each other but Dixon, Hernandez, and Turull were all arrested.
Dixon faces a charge for illegally operating the vehicle. Hernandez and Turull were charged with assault and battery on a law enforcement officer.
All three appeared in bond court on Monday.
Police, Broward sheriff’s deputies, and Florida Highway Patrol troopers throughout South Florida stayed busy over the weekend.
Police urged riders last Wednesday to follow the law over the holiday weekend. In a news conference, law enforcement said there are extra eyes on the ground and from above.
“Aircraft operations will monitor traffic and report individuals or groups interfering with other motorists or driving recklessly to troopers on patrol,” Lt. Alejandro Camacho with FHP said.
Viewer cell phone video also showed riders in Miami Gardens Sunday afternoon. Police said riders can be cited or arrested and their ATVs or dirt bikes taken away.
One detective said why he is mostly concerned with groups like this.
“The hardest part of our job is to conduct death notifications to family members or be visiting them at trauma centers,” Jeffrey Childers with Miami-Dade police said.
The detective also listed several dangers that could impact other drivers, like reckless driving, inexperienced riders, and some ATVs and dirt bikes may have bad tires and cause serious or deadly crashes.
BSO said Saturday five people were arrested including 24-year-old Tevin Mathews, who is accused of striking a deputy with an ATV. The deputy is described as having non-life threatening injuries.