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The District Attorney’s Narcotics Division continued its extraordinary cooperation throughout 2016 with other law enforcement agencies to prosecute illegal drug-related offenses. Led by Division Chief Steve Walter and Assistant Chief Stacey McReynolds, notable prosecutions during the year included:
Operation Hard Candy
Operation Hard Candy was a San Diego Police Department-led investigation that began in October 2015. The operation was launched in response to numerous complaints from residents and businesses about blatant drug sales and open drug use, throughout the East Village area. Undercover officers took to the street and purchased a wide variety of controlled substances from local street dealers in areas most impacted by narcotics activity. Drug types included methamphetamine, cocaine base, and heroin. After making undercover purchases, San Diego police obtained arrest warrants for the suspected drug dealers and facilitators. After a week-long grand jury proceeding, 22 indictments against a total of 31 defendants were handed down. Depending on the defendant’s criminal record, penalties included probation, drug diversion program, local custody, and state prison. The operation was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorneys Hung Bach, Marcy McLaughlin, and John Dunn.
Operation Black Cloud
Operation Black Cloud was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Narcotics Task Force to disrupt and dismantle an international heroin trafficking cell operating in both the United States and Mexico. The organization sourced heroin from Guerrero, Mexico, smuggled it across the United States border using female couriers, and then sold it to retail and street level dealers in San Diego County. The cash produced by this illicit conduct was then smuggled into Mexico, again using primarily female couriers. This was a state wiretap investigation spanning several months. Agents and Task Force Officers conducted numerous surveillance operations and analyzed intercepted phone calls. Seizures during the course of this operation included six pounds of heroin and $35,000 in cash. Fourteen individuals have been arrested, charged, and prosecuted for drug sales offenses stemming from this operation. Sentences resulting from these prosecutions ranged from probation to nine years and eight months in prison. This operation was handled by Deputy District Attorney Christina Eastman.
The Narcotics Division continues to assist federal, state, and local law enforcement officers in preparing and reviewing their search and arrest warrants, with various investigative issues, and they help law enforcement with projects in high-crime areas. In addition, the Narcotics Division is assigned to handle State Asset Forfeiture matters.