SAN DIEGO, CA – Acting Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman, San Diego Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced today the arrests of 60 defendants as part of a takedown targeting Mexican and Iraqi drug trafficking organizations called Operation Shadowbox. In January of 2011, El Cajon PD contacted DEA concerning an increase in narcotics trafficking and violent crime in certain neighborhoods of El Cajon. These crimes have been attributed primarily to Iraqi organized crime elements, and as this investigation has discovered, the Sinaloa Cartel, a Mexico-based drug trafficking organization (DTO) which supplies them with drugs.
The targets of this investigation are members of an Iraqi DTO which has suspected affiliation with the Chaldean Organized Crime Syndicate (COCS). The COCS began in the early 80s in Detroit, Michigan. Crimes associated with the COCS include murder, arson, weapons trafficking, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, fraud, theft, counterfeiting, racketeering, alien smuggling, assault, kidnapping, and armed robbery. Chaldean organized crime has historical ties to Sinaloa Cartel and the Mexican Mafia. The investigation soon focused on 811 East Main Street. This location houses an Iraqi social club and is a hub of criminal activity conducted by Iraqi organized crime in El Cajon. Crimes documented at 811 E. Main include: attempted murder, methamphetamine sales, marijuana sales, sale of diverted pharmaceuticals, gambling, resisting arrest, illegal liquor sales, and illegal sales of firearms.
This operation has so far resulted in 60 arrests. 30 arrests will be referred for 30 State prosecutions and charges include sales, possession for sales and conspiracy to distribute narcotics and pharmaceuticals, and possession of firearms by convicted felons. 30 arrests will be referred for Federal prosecution and charges include participation in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, conspiracy to distribute and distribution of narcotics, marijuana, and pharmaceuticals, conspiracy to import marijuana, and possession and distribution of automatic weapons.
The investigation has resulted in the seizure of over 13 pounds of methamphetamine; over four pounds of MDMA (Ecstasy) and pharmaceuticals including Vicodin, Oxycontin, Codeine, Xanex, and Percocet, one pound of cocaine, heroin, crack cocaine, and over 3,500 pounds of marijuana. Additional seizures include over $630,000 in US currency, three luxury cars, and the seizure of 34 firearms including semi-automatic assault rifles and several fully automatic firearms, and four IEDs. The IEDs were processed with the assistance of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Bomb Squad and the FBI.
Several identified subjects in this investigation have lengthy criminal histories including controlled substance possession, and distribution, as well as grand theft auto, burglary, resisting arrest, possession of dangerous weapons and battery. As the investigation continues, additional members of the Iraqi DTO are expected to be identified.
Other agencies: San Diego County District Attorney’s, the United States Attorney’s Office, Internal Revenue Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, United States Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, San Diego Sheriff’s Department, La Mesa SWAT Teams, and California State Department of Justice Agents.