Year-long investigation leads to three-day gang sweep

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Forty-five people with links to six criminal street
gangs, most of them alleged drug traffickers selling methamphetamine, were
charged in federal court in San Diego with gun and drug-trafficking crimes,
authorities announced Thursday.

Following a yearlong investigation and a three-day gang sweep that
concluded Thursday morning, 40 defendants were in custody and 52 weapons were taken
off the streets, said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.

A coalition of local, state and federal agents also conducted searches
in eight locations, including sites in Linda Vista, Midtown, City Heights, Mid
City, Clairemont Mesa and Oak Park.

Many of the locations are homes where drugs and guns were stored or
sold, including an apartment across the street from Hoover High School.

Agents and detectives seized $47,600 in cash at a house in Oak Park,
bringing the total cash seized to almost $60,000.

Among the guns seized in the investigation, dubbed “Crystal Palace
II,” were numerous assault rifles, a 9mm (Tec 9) with a high capacity magazine
and a couple Norinco Mak 90 7.62 (AK 47s) with high capacity magazines.

Ten indictments unsealed this week describe five different conspiracies
with overlapping players, including individuals with ties to the Oriental
Killer Boys, the Oriental Mob Crips, the Viet Boys, the Tiny Oriental Crips, the Logan Heights Calle Treinta and Linda Vista Crips.

According to the indictments and search warrants, some of the defendants
were felons in possession of firearms.

“We are absolutely committed to making our neighborhoods safe from
violent gang activity and drug trafficking,” Duffy said.

According to court documents, some of the defendants were distributing
methamphetamine far beyond the borders of California — from Hawaii to Guam,
and from central California to Minnesota.

The case is the latest in a series of federally-charged, large-scale
multi-agency crackdowns on street gang activity in San Diego County
neighborhoods, Duffy said. Including today's indictments, nearly 300 people
have been charged in a number of major federal gang prosecutions since January
2012, with scores of guilty pleas entered.

According to Duffy, federal prosecutions of methamphetamine drug crimes
in the Southern District of California, which includes San Diego and Imperial
counties, have increased more than 500 percent in the last five years.

While San Diego County was once known for its proliferation of meth
labs, the supply of meth has shifted to “superlabs” operated by drug cartels
in Mexico, Duffy said. As a result, meth seizures at U.S. ports of entry along
the California-Mexico border have almost doubled over the past three years.

“Meth abuse and trafficking are tremendous problems in our country and
our county, and they urgently require more resources and attention,” Duffy
said. “For all these reasons, in 2014-2015, my office will be taking a harder
look at our role in attacking these problems.”

Categories: KUSI