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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Nearly a dozen federal indictments were unsealed in San Diego Thursday charging 23 documented gang members and associates with trafficking drugs and firearms, with the defendants largely hailing from gangs operating in the South Bay region.

The indictments are part of a yearlong investigation involving wiretaps, undercover drug and gun purchases and “extensive surveillance,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As of Thursday afternoon, 17 of the 23 defendants — all identified as San Diego residents ranging in age from 23 to 60 — were in federal or state custody, with a dozen of the defendants arrested this week.

Authorities also seized methamphetamine, heroin and firearms as part of the investigation.

Prosecutors said many of the defendants are either members or associates of gangs — many of which have “longstanding ties to the Mexican Mafia” — operating out of National City, San Ysidro and other areas.

“Gangs, drugs and illegal firearms are infesting many of our neighborhoods and creating a violent culture that is unsafe for residents,” Acting U.S. Attorney Randy S. Grossman said.

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