SAN DIEGO (CN) – Twenty-eight people were arrested and charged with meth dealing as police rounded up San Diego-area suspects in raids that also seized 19 guns and five silencers, prosecutors said.
Three grand jury indictments charge 33 people with meth dealing; three of them are still at large, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Twenty-eight were arrested in predawn raids Tuesday, in San Diego and five nearby cities.
Police also seized 26 lbs. of methamphetamines, a pound of cocaine, $151,000 in cash and a good-sized arsenal, including a Glock semi-automatic handgun, an AR-15, a TEC 9 and five silencers.
The yearlong investigation, “Red Menace,” targeted multiple criminal street gangs whose members sometimes combine to deal drugs, prosecutors said.
More than 180 people have been changed in San Diego-area gang prosecutions since January 2012 and more than 80 have pleaded guilty, the U.S. attorney said in a statement.
Riverside and San Diego Counties were the center of the country’s meth lab operations in the 1980s and 1990s, though law enforcement pressure forced the labs to move. Many went to the Midwest, whose open spaces provided rooms for the labs, and whose police forces were, by and large, unprepared for it.
Arrested and charged Tuesday in one of the three indictments were Christopher Robles, 28; Robert McKinney, 42; Alfredo Barias, 65; Robert Young, 31; David Marinelli, 41; Cory Evans, 39; Keith Lusk, 44; Pamela Miranda, 25; Scott Smith, 52; Robert Duren, 41, all of San Diego; Ronald Bonoan, 40, of Chula Vista; Shannon White, 39, and Joshua Wayne McGuire, 34, both of La Mesa; Sarat Sek, age unknown, of San Diego, is a fugitive.
Sixteen people are charged in a second indictment, and three in the third.
Fugitive are Rostia Eunice Corrales, 28, of Chula Vista, and Stephanie Cleveland, 43, of Coronado.
Most defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute. If convicted, they face up to life in prison and $4 million in fines, each.
The Red Menace task force does not refer to communism, but to red phosphorus, a toxic chemical used to cook meth. Lab operators often dump the poison on the ground or into sewers or streambeds, another crime and public health menace, even for people who don’t take the drug.
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