31 indicted following undercover drug operation in San Diego


A monthlong undercover operation led to the indictment of 31 people suspected of dealing drugs in downtown San Diego’s East Village, authorities said Thursday.

Operation Hard Candy, which was carried out in October, was launched after residents and business owners complained about “blatant drug sales and open drug use” throughout the community, officials with the county district attorney’s office said.

Undercover San Diego officers took to the streets and bought a variety of drugs, including methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine base, authorities said.


Investigators presented their findings to the county grand jury at the end of February and obtained warrants for the arrests of 31 people, Deputy Dist. Atty. Hung Bach said.

“The presence of prevalent drug-dealing in a neighborhood invariably leads to an increase of other various crimes like robberies and theft,” Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis said in a statement. “Working with the San Diego Police Department, we were able to respond to the community’s concerns and take a significant criminal element off the streets.”

Arrests began in March and, so far, 26 people have been taken into custody. Charges against them include sales of controlled substances, authorities said.

San Diego police Officer Travis Easter said a “substantial number” of violent and property crimes have been committed in East Village over the last year, which investigators attribute in part to a consistent flow of narcotics.

“Street-level sales of these narcotics spur violence, prompt property theft for petty cash and result in a diminished quality of life for those who live, work and visit East Village,” he said.

One businessman said drug activity and drug use behavior has been a constant challenge since he set up shop in East Village seven years ago. The 52-year-old declined to be identified for fear of retaliation.


Interested in the stories shaping California? Sign up for the free Essential California newsletter >>

“I have employees who would come in early and see [drug] transactions being made, or prostitution as payment for drugs,” he said. But he was encouraged to hear about the arrests and hoped it signals a turning point in the community.

“There are a lot of people who are doing our very best to bring business to the community to improve the area,” he said. “It’s been a struggle that the residents and the businesses in this area have been dealing with for years.”

Those arrested, who are between 20 and 60 years old, are in various stages of prosecution; depending on their criminal record, penalties could include probation, a drug diversion program or jail or prison time, officials said.

Winkley writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.



Father who confessed to killing his son is charged in wife’s death

Protests rage outside Trump rally in Orange County; 17 arrested, police car smashed

Offensive emails from a top official put L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell on the spot