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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
January 21, 2005

Uncovers Murder Conspiracy by North County Gang

JAN 31-- San Diego District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent John S. Fernandes announced today the culmination of “Operation Shakedown” by the San Diego County Integrated Narcotics Task Force, breaking up a violent North County crack cocaine ring and murder conspiracy involving street gangs. Fourteen gang members were arrested on suspicion of weapons violations and drug trafficking during an early morning sweep. Six of the defendants were also booked on suspicion of conspiracy to murder a rival gang member.

“This operation began as a comprehensive, proactive, narcotics investigation in response to ongoing gang violence in the North County,” DA Dumanis said. “Several of these defendants are under investigation for gang related murders and attempted murders recently in Oceanside and Vista.”

“The law enforcement alliance in San Diego County is stronger than these violent drug gangs,” said Fernandes, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s San Diego Office.

The ring moved about a pound of crack cocaine a week, which is approximately $15,000 a week or $750,000 a year in drug money. It was comprised of some of the most dangerous gang members and their associates, known to be major narcotic traffickers in North County.

During the course of this case, officers, utilizing investigative techniques, were able to prevent the imminent murder of a rival gang member. The search warrants and arrests had to be moved up because the intended victim was about to be ambushed at a bar.

One child was taken into protective custody under the “Drug Endangered Children” program. Two cars, one and a half pounds of crack cocaine, more than $11,000 in cash and four loaded firearms were seized during this investigation.

One of the suspects is a documented gang member from Los Angeles who had recently been paroled from a 17-year prison sentence for kidnapping for ransom. He was arrested while in possession of a 9-millimeter semi-automatic with a silencer. It was found with other guns and drugs in hidden compartments professionally installed in his vehicle.

The defendants are expected to be charged and arraigned Jan. 24 in Vista Superior Court.

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