Undercover sting nets 30 arrests for ‘rampant’ East Village drug dealing

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SAN DIEGO -- An undercover operation targeting "rampant drug dealing" in San Diego's East Village netted dozens of arrests, authorities announced Friday.

The District Attorney's office explained that in early 2019, it started getting easier and easier to buy drugs in the area immediately surrounding Petco Park.

"Dozens of drug dealers had set up shop, peddling everything from methamphetamine to cocaine," authorities said. Residents increasingly called the city worried about the rise of other crimes in the area, as well.

As concerns mounted, police and the DA's office set up a sting operation meant to identify dealers selling the most significant quantities of the drugs. Undercover officers made dozens of buys to build their case against "a small army of dealers."

Meth, heroin and cocaine were among the drugs available for purchase in the area.

Once enough evidence had been gathered, a grand jury approved 30 indictments against 41 alleged offenders. San Diego Police Department got warrants and started making arrests.

As of Nov. 22, 32 people had been taken into custody and 30 had been to court to formally face charges. Most of the people are accused of felonies, with sentences between six months and 10 years in jail if convicted, the DA said.

DA Summer Stephan, Police Chief David Nisleit and other officials held a news conference Friday to announce the operation's success.

“This is an excellent example of a coordinated, proactive response by law enforcement to address an uptick in crime," Stephan said. “By far, the most common illegal drug being sold in the area was meth—something that is consistent with drugs found in people who are arrested in the county.”

Nisleit called the operation "a great example of how our department responds to the needs and concerns of community members.”

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