Wednesday, October 17, 2012

AZMEX EXTRA 16-10-12


Major local drug and gun ring toppled
Dozens of firearms were seized in raids throughout San Diego County
as part of a federal operation dubbed "Crystal Palace."
Written by
Susan Shroder
8:22 p.m., Oct. 16, 2012

SAN DIEGO — Federal officials on Tuesday announced the culmination of
a two-year multiagency investigation they said resulted in the
dismantling of a gang-run, drug-and-guns trafficking ring operating
in San Diego County neighborhoods.

More than three dozen people were arrested and more than 60 weapons
seized in the investigation, dubbed "Crystal Palace."

The defendants are accused of trafficking in guns, methamphetamine,
heroin, ecstasy, marijuana and cocaine, according to grand jury
indictments and search warrant affidavits unsealed Tuesday.

"The time and effort spent on this operation was incredibly
worthwhile because it resulted in getting guns, drugs and criminals
off the streets and safer neighborhoods," San Diego Police Chief
William Lansdowne said in a statement.

Defendants include alleged gang members from neighborhoods including
Linda Vista, Spring Valley, Mira Mesa, Logan Heights, Lomita Village,
Chula Vista and National City.

Federal officials said the case was unique because of the number and
type of weapons seized. Thirty-three guns were seized on Oct. 2 in
raids in Spring Valley, Lomita Village and Mira Mesa. That is
believed to be the county's largest single-day weapons seizure ever,
officials said.

Items seized in the two-year operation include Uzi submachine guns,
semiautomatic rifles, 4,000 rounds of ammunition and Kevlar body armor.

The investigation was the latest in a series of large multiagency
crackdowns on street gang activity in San Diego County neighborhoods,
federal officials said. Since January, 119 defendants have been
charged in federal gang prosecutions; 79 have pleaded guilty.

"These are neighborhoods and streets where children play and walk to
school, parents push their strollers and citizens of every age seek
to live peacefully and enjoy their families," U.S. Attorney Laura
Duffy said in a statement. "We will not allow our neighborhoods to
become headquarters for gun-toting gang members."

According to court records, three of the "Crystal Palace" defendants
— Norman Nooris, 41; Tony Lomeli, 43; and Hao Duc Tang, 37, all of
San Diego — operated drug importation and distribution cells that
trafficked in significant amounts of mostly meth and guns. Each of
the cells is alleged to have significant gang ties.

Another defendant, Veronica Ojeda, 24, of San Diego, is accused of
distributing large quantities of drugs out of her grandmother's house
near an elementary school on San Vicente Street in the Lomita Village
area of San Diego, officials said.

In addition to San Diego police, agencies participating in the
investigation include the Sheriff's Department, Immigration and
Customs Enforcement, Drug Enforcement Administration, Border Patrol,
Customs and Border Protection, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives.

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