Narcotics-gang undercover operation results in nearly 100 arrests
SAN DIEGO — Nearly 100 people were arrested — half of them documented gang members — in a six-month undercover operation that targeted gang and narcotics crimes and also led to the closure of a day-care center, police said Monday.
Operation Red Sky, named by undercover officials after the Skyline gang they followed, culminated Monday in the arrest of 14 of the top shot-callers in the gang, police Capt. Jim Collins.
Police, with the help of the San Diego County District Attorney's Office, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration, made a total of 93 arrests.
Officials recently closed the Little Buckaroos day-care center on Calle Primera in San Ysidro after two people were arrested in or near the business. The pair were armed and suspected of buying narcotics, Collins said. They were related to the owner of the day-care center.
A pizzeria in the Skyline neighborhood also shut down after police said they learned that narcotics were being sold to gang members there, police said.
Undercover officers seized 19 firearms, 240 marijuana plants, 10 pounds of marijuana, more than 17 pounds of powder cocaine, more than 3 pounds of crack cocaine and 2 pounds of methamphetamine. Also seized were more than 3,000 ecstasy tablets, 18 vials of PCP and more than $60,000.
One of the people arrested is suspected in a 2003 double-homicide outside Dr. J's Liquor Store in southeastern San Diego. Killed in that incident were Carol Waites, 45, of Valencia Park, and Sharen Burton, 32, of Temecula, who had stopped at the store on the way home from church on New Year's Day.
Authorities said that shooting was the result of a war between rival gangs. They said the attackers — who arrived in separate cars and used several weapons — were probably aiming for specific targets in the crowd. Several bystanders were struck instead.
Police said those arrested in the latest operation are suspected of attempted homicides, gang-related shootings, drug and weapons trafficking, robberies, pimping and weapons violations.
The arrests include male and female gang members, associates of gang members and those who supplied narcotics to the gangs.
Three other people are still being sought by police.
It is the fifth operation conducted by police this year. Authorities credit such undercover operations for a 40 percent reduction in gang crimes in the city.
By Angelica Martinez
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
4:32 p.m. September 28, 2009