North County meth trafficking ring busted

SAN DIEGO – A dozen alleged members of a ring that shipped methamphetamine and cocaine from Mexico into San Diego County have been arrested over the past two days, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

jail-cellThey’re among 19 charged with conspiracy to traffic drugs in a federal complaint unsealed on Wednesday, prosecutors said. The other seven suspects investigated as part of the one-year-long Operation Crystal Haven remain at large.

Prosecutors said the ring imported narcotics from cartels in Tijuana and Guadalajara and distributed the drugs in northern San Diego County. Most of those named in the complaint are from the North County.

“We are relentlessly pursuing major trafficking organizations that operate in our neighborhoods and imperil our children,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “It’s gratifying to wrap up a lengthy investigation like this one with many arrests and drug seizures, knowing the community is safer because of our efforts.”

Arrested were Vista residents Jose Isidro Rodriguez-Lara, 42, Alma Jaime, 38, Manuel Marcial, 31, Felipe Garcia-Gallegos, 27, Guadalupe Natalie Perez, 22, Nancy Blancas-Pena, 26, and Sylvia Sanchez-Zarate, 47; San Marcos residents David Aguilar, 37, Jose Luis Lopez, 67, and Leonardo Garcia-Gaytan, 26; Alicia Reyna Marin, 49, of Oceanside; and Miguel Gutierrez-Marantes, 26, of Panorama City in Los Angeles County.

They face a maximum of life in prison if convicted.

William Sherman, acting special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s San Diego office, alleged the suspects made huge profits by distributing multi-pound quantities of narcotics.

The investigation was conducted by the Major Mexican Traffickers Strike Force, which is made up of the DEA, FBI, Internal Revenue Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.