SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Thirty-seven documented gang members and associates were charged this week in federal court in San Diego with methamphetamine distribution and firearms trafficking, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced today.
The defendants are accused of dealing in substantial quantities of methamphetamine and illegal guns, using Teralta Park in City Heights as their headquarters and operating throughout the Mid-City area of San Diego, prosecutors said.
During a two-day takedown, investigators executed 10 search warrants and seized more than three pounds of methamphetamine, 17 firearms and more than $25,000 in drug proceeds from the defendants.
The yearlong investigation, dubbed "Seeing Blue," was co-led by the Homeland Security Investigations Gangs & Weapons Group and the San Diego Police Department in partnership with the U.S. Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
It involved months of federal wiretaps, dozens of undercover drug buys and extensive surveillance.
Many of the defendants are documented members or associates of violent San Diego street gangs, including the Oriental Mafia Crips, West Coast Crips, Neighborhood Crips and Lincoln Park Piru, prosecutors said.
As alleged in newly unsealed indictments, complaints, and search warrants, Homeland Security Investigations began the probe by targeting a prolific methamphetamine distribution network headed by OMC gang member Soulidao Chounlaboudy, aka ``Lazy.''
Investigators were able to introduce undercover agents to Chounlaboudy in order to purchase ounce quantities of methamphetamine, firearms and stolen vehicles from him and his co-conspirators.
During the investigation of Chounlaboudy, agents also identified Ruben Contreras-Ramirez, a gang member, as a firearms distributor involved in the manufacture of assault-style semiautomatic firearms for illegal distribution, prosecutors said. Investigators subsequently targeted WCC gang member John Quarles, aka "J-Money," and his methamphetamine and crack cocaine drug distribution network.
According to the charging documents, Quarles' network was responsible for distributing dozens of pounds of methamphetamine and grossing tens of thousands of dollars in drug proceeds.
His network utilized an array of distributors and sub-distributors, many of them convicted drug dealers and gang members, to distribute methamphetamine and crack cocaine from Teralta Park.