SAN DIEGO – Following a yearlong multiagency investigation, 25 individuals with suspected ties to San Diego-area violent street gangs have been charged with gun and drug-trafficking crimes in indictments unsealed in federal court this week.
During a two-day enforcement action that concluded Thursday, 18 of the defendants were taken into custody. The majority of the arrests occurred in the Skyline and Paradise Hills neighborhoods.
The remaining seven defendants charged in the case are still being sought. In addition to the arrests, the investigation has so far resulted in the seizure of six weapons, more than 1,500 grams of methamphetamine, and 248 grams of heroin.
“Methamphetamine is ravaging our communities, and it’s not just users who are suffering,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “Residents in these meth- and gang-infested areas deserve to live in peace, free of gunfire, violence and fear.”
The two indictments unsealed this week describe four conspiracies involving overlapping players with ties to more than 10 street gangs, including the Skyline, the Samoan Bloods, the Kalaban, the Stateside Islanders, the Paradise Hills Locos, Logan Heights, Old Town National City, National City Southside Mob, Trust No Soul, and Lincoln Park gang.
The indictments are the result of a multiagency probe involving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, and the San Diego Police Department. In addition, the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, the El Cajon Police Department, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, the San Diego County Probation Department, and the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force Gang Group provided substantial assistance with this week’s enforcement actions.
According to court documents and a search warrant affidavit, most of the defendants identified during the investigation were selling methamphetamine. Many of the conspiracy charges involve the importation of methamphetamine and heroin smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico.
Twelve of the defendants were arraigned in federal court Wednesday and Thursday, with two more expected to appear in federal court Friday. The remaining four defendants, who are in state custody, are expected to make their initial appearances in federal court next week. The maximum penalties for the charges alleged in the indictments range from 10 years to life in prison.
The arrests are the latest in a series of large-scale, multiagency crackdowns on street gangs and their related criminal activity in San Diego County neighborhoods. The goal is to eradicate gang-related violence, halt the cash flow the gangs generate through criminal activity, and ultimately dismantle the entire organization.