Oceanside and Vista have been some of the communities most impacted by the drastic increase of cheap, pure, methamphetamine. 'Operation No Worries', a sprawling look at the drug and gang distribution networks of North County was unsealed today, a total of 10 indictments and 55 defendants. No Worries is one of close to 10 major trafficking cases originating in the North County area since 2013. The amount of product seized, and those indicted has grown every year.
San Diego community El Cajon was once considered the meth capital of the country, this was a long time ago, in the early 90's. It was a different time, innocent would be an ironic word choice, but it was a kind of innocence. Hells Angels and various independent distributors, manufacturers, and dealers sold meth, but not like this meth. 'Bathtub crank', from the term 'bathtub gin', of Prohibition era was the main kind produced. In small labs, trailers, hotel rooms, small cook ups, with home made meth were how the product was created. Some larger groups had bigger labs and more supplies.
That's all long over. After the decline of the Arellano-Felix brothers, Benja and Ramon, the groups under Javier Francisco Arellano Felix, and his lieutenant, Manuel Arturo Villareal Heredia, diversified into Mexican made meth. They made in roads in the market. By 2008 La Familia Michoacana, was making some of the purest meth available, and trafficking through the Tijuana border. By 2011 the Sinaloa Cartel was making it in superlabs, producing ton quantities weekly, and with their new access to the San Diego corridor, they had transformed the city.
San Diego is not the meth's destination point. 70% of the meth in the country comes through San Diego. But, there is a large market. Meth and heroin related deaths have surged by 80% in the last 5 years. Just under half of all male and females arrested have meth in their syste
m. Prices have plunged. Purity is in the low to high 90's. Pounds are about 2500 dollars, almost 4 times cheaper then in 2010.
The gangs that snake through North County became the prime distribution points for Sinaloa affiliated trafficking networks, based in Tijuana. Two operations in 2013, Operation Crystal Haven, and Operation Corridor revealed the extent of Sinaloa's influence, working with street gangs, who in turn answered to the Mexican Mafia, La Eme, inside and outside of prison.
In 2015, Operation Narco Polo revealed major meth distribution rings, including the Deep Valley Crips, this is a continuation of that trend. Many of those charged here are gang members or gang affiliates, including the lead defendant, Yadira 'Pini' Villalvazo. The Vista Home Boys, Varrios Fallbrook Locos, Varrio Carlsbad Locos, Encintas Tortilla Flats, Varrio San Marcos, Escondido Viejo Diablos all have members named in the indictment.
“Pini” was a Varrio Locos associate, and attended Vista High School, she was deported following a federal drug conviction in 2002, and now runs a Sinaloa affiliated trafficking network that supplied pound quantities of heroin to the Vista Home Boys, and other gangs. The money was trafficked back to Tijuana, and further south to Sinaloa. ”Pini” remains a fugitive in Tijuana. Her brother Joel Villalvazo was named in the indictment. He is in custody.
Today more then 150 members of the Regional Gang Task Force served search and arrest warrants. 8 defendants remain fugitives. The Regional Gang Task Force includes members of the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, San Diego Sheriff's, Oceanside Police Department, Bureau Of Prisons, ATF, San Diego District Attorney's Office, U.S Marshals, among others.
The DOJ also assisted with their Office of Enforcement Operations Electronic Surveillance Unit. The case included wiretap intercepts and extensive surveillance, over the course of a year long investigation. The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, OCDETF, was involved also.
It's estimated these networks supplied 25% of the heroin and meth in North County. One of the distribution cells under Jorge Enrique Jara Cervantes, mailed meth to Tennessee and Alabama. 'Pini's cell sent pounds of heroin to Kingsman, Arizona.
The defendants are charged with assorted drug and money laundering conspiracy charges, and firearms violations. Dozens of which were seized during the course of the investigation.