65 arrested during North County drug raids

POWAY, Calif. — Sixty-five suspects were behind bars Tuesday at the conclusion of a North County undercover drug probe that included the seizure of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin, as well as other drugs, valued at $2.1 million.

All together, the drugs weighed about 150 pounds. Seventy-six guns and a live hand grenade also were seized.

Investigators said some of the defendants have extensive criminal histories.

operationThey went way beyond drug trafficking,” said Bill Sherman, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent In Charge. “They were involved in all sorts of violent crimes.”

The yearlong effort dubbed “Operation Mountain Shadow” focused on Poway and Ramona, because law enforcement authorities said they received complaints about crimes there.

Personnel with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies served a dozen search warrants in the case this morning.

According to the agencies, they seized 93 pounds of methamphetamine, 56 pounds of cocaine, 14 pounds of heroin, five pounds of prescription pills, 30 grams of marijuana and $230,000 in cash.

Some of those arrested face federal charges of distribution and conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. Others are facing state charges. If convicted, they will face sentences ranging from probation to life in prison.

Those charged federally in this case include Juan Aguirre, 39, Paulino Aguirre, 68, Johnny Castillo, 42, Jose Ernesto Dinero, 41, Christopher Maldonado, 38, Jose Tyoran, 40, John Caudle, 40, Michelle Vasquez, 33, Israel Ornelas, 40, Oscar Rodriguez-Torres, 41, Miguel Rodriguez-Torres, 41, and Todd Young, 47.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said the operation sends a strong message to drug dealers.

“We will track you down and we will take your drug operation down link by link,” she said.

Among agencies taking part in the operation were the DEA Violent Trafficking Team; U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Attorney’s Office; U.S. Border Patrol; FBI Violent Gang Task Force; Regional Auto Theft Task Force; San Diego County District Attorney’s Office; and the county Narcotics Task Force.