Originally published March 28, 2011 at 10:43 a.m., updated March 28, 2011 at 12:48 p.m.
SAN DIEGO — A massive multi-agency weekend sweep targeting criminals involved with drugs, gangs and cross-border crimes resulted in 246 arrests and the seizure of about $200,000 in cash and contraband, sheriff’s officials announced Monday.
Operation Allied Shield III, which started Friday about 5 p.m. and ended 2 a.m. Sunday, involved 680 law enforcement officers from several local, state and federal agencies who fanned out in a show of force across central, south and east San Diego County.
“We go into the neighborhoods where the gangs think they own the turf and we’re making it clear to them these neighborhoods belong to the community,” Sheriff Bill Gore said at a news conference Monday.
Sheriff’s Capt. Dave Myers said there were no violent gang-related crimes reported while the operation was taking place.
“That’s because we are targeting the right places and the right people,” Myers said.
Forty-six drug seizures worth an estimated street value of $70,000 were made, including cocaine, heroin, crystal methamphetamine, ecstasy, pharmaceuticals and about 17 pounds of marijuana, Gore said.
Five weapons, including a sawed-off shotgun, were also seized, along with ammunition, $46,000 in cash, a motorcycle worth an estimated $25,000, vehicles and assorted drug paraphernalia, said sheriff’s Lt. Margaret Sanfilippo, who heads up the department’s Border Crime Suppression Team, which spearheaded the operation.
Eighty documented gang members and 25 gang associates were identified, and 67 of them were arrested. Gore said some of those taken into custody were in the country illegally.
Unit supervisor Sgt. Greg Carpenter’s team conducted several probation compliance searches Saturday night at homes in Santee.
He said their aim was to seize drugs and weapons and to identify and observe gang members in a proactive and very visible way.
“Just really hit them hard with enforcement,” the sergeant said.
His team of sheriff’s SWAT deputies, Border Patrol agents and a county probation officer, in a caravan of five law enforcement vehicles, visited five homes of men either on probation or parole for a variety of crimes that include narcotics, theft and weapons violations.
Before each search, the team was briefed on who they were looking for.
One man was said to be a “heavy drug user” involved in narcotics and fraud. Deputies were warned there could be needles in the home. A second had multiple violations of grand theft, DUI and burglary.
One 24-year-old, who lived in one room of a house with his girlfriend and his toddler son, was arrested on suspicion of drug possession and cruelty to a child after deputies found what appeared to be a controlled substance wrapped in plastic inside his wallet.
Signs of other drug use, such as discarded balloons wrapped in tissue, were also found in the cluttered room, not far from the baby’s crib.
Three other men whose homes were systematically searched were found to be in compliance with the terms of their probation or parole, and a fourth was not home.
The sweep operated out of two command posts in Spring Valley and Balboa Park, where prisoners were delivered and booked.
The operation is funded by the $28.3 million federal Stonegarden grant that was awarded to the county in 2008 to focus on prevention, detection and suppression of crimes in areas impacted by border-related crime. Gore said there will be more operations to come.
Officers from the San Diego, Chula Vista, El Cajon, La Mesa, National City and Harbor police departments, the California Highway Patrol, and agents from the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were among the agencies that participated.