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Drug Roundup Nets 26 in San Diego

SAN DIEGO (CN) — Twenty-six people were arrested in a month-long undercover operation against downtown drug dealers that netted grand jury indictments against 31 suspects, San Diego officials said Thursday.

"Operation Hard Candy" began in October, to clean up downtown East Village near Petco Park, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman said.

Nearby businesses and residents complained about "blatant drug sales and open drug use" downtown near the Padres stadium, Dumanis said in a statement.

Undercover officers bought methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin on the street.

"The presence of prevalent drug-dealing in a neighborhood invariably leads to an increase of other crimes like robberies and thefts," Dumanis said.

Zimmerman said that competition over control of the drug trade "created a dangerous environment" in the downtown neighborhood.

Twenty-six of the 31 defendants have been arrested, and 20 have pleaded guilty to charges that include sales of controlled substances, according to the District Attorney's Office.

They will be sentenced in May.

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