Arrests made, drugs seized as part of 'Operation Cruel Summer'
Cash, drugs, firearms seized as part of operation
Last Updated: 447 days ago
SAN DIEGO - A six-month undercover investigation into North County drug-dealing culminated Tuesday with the arrests of 34 suspects, most of them Fallbrook residents.
"Operation Cruel Summer" also netted nearly 100 pounds of illegal drugs, including cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine, 38 guns and about $166,000 in cash, San Diego County sheriff's officials said.
Arrested were Fallbrook residents Eduardo Artiega, 23; Richard Banks, 46; Joshua Belleville, 21; Nathan Belleville, 29; Jesse Bolding, 22; Kent Bowling, 65; James Bruno, 25; Raul Escabedo, 23; Daniel Fore, 44; Mark Fountain, 50; Juan Gonzales, 45; Channing Halkias, 38; Robert Harris, 50; Cesar Hernandez, 36; Ronald Lindsey, 27; Carlos Lupercio, 28; Daniel Lupercio, 26; Ariel Mclean, 21; Isidro Monje, 58; Michael Ochoa, 39; Oscar Prather, 43; Gustavo Rios, 38; Eduardo Santacruz, 29; Jessie Sims, 50; Joseph Sims, 32; Maria Vargas, 21; Cynthia Vasquez, 44; Brok Wood, 21; Stephen Wyman, 32; Justin Youssi, 21; and Jose Zamudio, 44.
Also jailed were 22-year-old Bethany Costa of Vista and Gerald Rowe, 21, of Oceanside. The name of a juvenile suspect was not made public.
Authorities said a dozen others were taken into custody earlier in the operation, but their names were not immediately available.
A task force made up of 246 sheriff's deputies and federal agents served 38 arrest warrants and eight search warrants in Fallbrook, Bonsall, Rainbow, Oceanside and San Bernardino County between 6 a.m. and noon.
The family of one of those arrested in "Operation Cruel Summer" claims they were disrespected by officers who broke down the back door of their home on Alturas Road.
"They came in yelling with weapons," said Adriana Escobedo, who was not at home when her brother, Raul, was hauled out of bed and taken to jail.
Escobedo claims the officers were looking for a cousin who no longer lives with the family, but wound up taking Raul, who is on probation for a drug charge.
"He's not involved at all," Escobedo said of her brother, who was due to start a six-month drug rehabilitation program this week.
Escobedo was angry about the treatment of her parents, especially her father, who has a prosthetic leg.
"They were yelling at my dad to get up, and obviously my dad can't get up with just one leg," she said.
Escobedo explained the raid was also a problem for her father because he has high blood pressure.
However, other Fallbrook residents were pleased to see the San Diego County Sheriff's Department take action.
"I think sometimes being on the upper end of the county we get overlooked for issues like this," said Hannah Lafrenz, who lives in a neighborhood where two homes were raided. Lafrenz said she is grateful to the deputies who are making her neighborhood safer.
As for those charged with drug dealing?
"I don’t want them here…They can go wherever they want, preferably to jail," she said.
Police said residents complained of drug dealing and, starting in March, plainclothes police started rooting them out, making more than 50 buys of drugs and firearms.
All those arrested are expected to face federal charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and could be charged with crimes in state court.
Participating in the raid were agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Marshals Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, Border Patrol, U.S. Attorney's Office and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
At the state and local level, participants included agents with the county parole and probation departments and the District Attorney's Office.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. City News Service contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.