SAN DIEGO - Eleven alleged members and associates of a gang-affiliated North County narcotics ring were behind bars Thursday at the culmination of a four-month investigation, authorities reported.
They were arrested on Wednesday during a multi-agency sweep in Escondido, Oceanside, the Pala area and Vista. The multi-agency operation known as "Operation 1620" netted more than a pound of seized methamphetamine, nine guns, two stolen vehicles, more than $3,000 worth of stolen property and $8,000 in illicit cash proceeds, according to officials.
Additionally, three minors who had been exposed to their parents' alleged narcotics activities were taken into protective custody, according to Oceanside police Lt. Leonard Mata.
In custody on various theft, drug-trafficking, child-endangerment and gang-related charges in the case were David Bollschweiler, 51; Hector Cavazos, 41; Audrey Marie Duey, 36; Veronica Espino, 33; Nancy Lopez, 33; Jack Marvin Myers, 57; George Leno Orozco, 24; Christian Rodriguez, 22; Manuel J. Ruiz, 26; Jaime A. Verduzco, 31 and Sara Darby Villegas, 33.
Three other suspects remained at large Thursday afternoon, Mata said.
The "Operation 1620" name was derived from the address of Orozco's home, not far from Baldarrama Park, an area police said was central in the alleged drug operation. Orozco is suspected of being the ringleader in the alleged drug operation.
The number 1620 is also significant, police said, because the 16th number in the alphabet is p, for Posole, and the 20th letter is t for town. The area where the gang operated is referred to by some as "Posole Town".
Lt. Valencia Saadat of the Carlsbad Police Department's Investigative Unit told 10News detectives received a tip indicating that Orozco, who uses the street names "Stretch" and "Armstrong," was the main player in the drug ring.
"We knew that he was active. We knew that he was distributing to other people," said Saadat.
Another main player in the ring may have escaped to Canada. Officers found a cache of weapons inside Wayne Swanson's Valley Center home.
"Anytime you get weapons at all, it's a dangerous situation, but nine weapons … that's significant," said Saadat, who said a SWAT team was needed to execute the warrant at his home.
Officers seized more than a pound of methamphetamine, more than $8,000 cash, 2 stolen vehicles and thousands of dollars worth of stolen property.
When asked about the impact of Operation 1620, Oceanside police called it "significant."
"I hope that the gangs are watching. I hope that they're paying attention," said Saadat. "You don't have to be a documented gang member in order for us to come after you. Not all those people are documented, they are associates, they are buying, they're using, they're selling drugs and they are all viable targets."
The Escondido and Oceanside police departments participated in the investigation and suspect roundup, as did the U.S. Marshals Service, the Department of Homeland Security, North County Jurisdictions Unified for Drug and Gang Enforcement, the County of San Diego Probation Department and the District Attorney's Office.