Forty-six people believed to be major traffickers of heroin and meth in North County were arrested this week in a case involving federal prosecutors and multiple law enforcement agencies.

Acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson called it the district’s most significant gang, gun and drug investigation in recent memory. Robinson said 55 people were charged, all members of various gangs that are responsible for as much as 25 percent of the heroin sold in North County.

“We’ve seized heroin, methamphetamine and 25 firearms, including handguns, revolvers and assault rifles,” Robinson said. “These drugs and guns were being stored and sold in San Diego North County, including across the street from Vista High School.”

The Union-Tribune reports the federal charges include drug distribution, illegal gun possession, money laundering, robbery, vehicle theft, assault and burglary.

The North County Regional Gang Task Force, made up of over a dozen local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, led the investigation. The Union-Tribune also reports the investigation lasted a year, and involved wiretaps, surveillance, and undercover buys.

KPBS Midday Edition spoke with Robinson, who said two of the leaders are still at-large in Mexico, and four or five gangs in North County were documented selling heroin and meth.


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

A gang shootout late Tuesday night in Escondido led to the death of a woman returning home from church. This story could get bigger.

Anti-Growth Follows No Ideology

Listen to comments about new developments long enough, and you’re likely to hear a neighbor speak out about “paving paradise” to build more parking lots and stucco boxes.

The phrase, of course, is borrowed from the song “Big Yellow Taxi”, and reflects a typical left-leaning critique of growth. But recent polling in the county’s District 3 shows it might just be a Republican reciting Joni Mitchell at the next city council meeting.

Maya Srikrishnan writes this week that polling during the last election found conservatives were twice as likely as liberals to say slowing residential development was “very” or “extremely” important to them.

“I think it was surprising,” said John Neinstedt, president of Competitive Edge Research & Communication, which conducted the polls. “It kind of piqued our interest. It tells you that if you’re going to take a pro-development stance, your problem is going to be on your right, but not on your left.”

Jason Roe, Kristin Gaspar’s campaign manager during her bid for County Supervisor, thinks the growth of the anti-growth right has less to do with ideology than who already lives here.

“I’m trying to rationalize where did that change happen because every time you hear ‘developers,’ it’s always something thrown all over the Republicans to paint them as bad guys: Republicans and the developers that fund them,” Roe said. “But it’s the Republican voters that are anti-growth. The only thing I can come up with is: They got their house, they don’t want their neighborhoods crowded up, they don’t want all these people coming in and choking up their roads and their schools.”

Protests at Issa’s and Hunter’s Offices Continue

Anti-Trump protest groups calling themselves Indivisible have been holding weekly protests outside the offices of Rep. Darrell Issa and Rep. Duncan Hunter and after three months show no sign of slowing. Like “Tuesday’s with Darrell” isn’t slowing.

The Union-Tribune estimates about 200 people gathered at the latest “Tuesdays with Darrell” protest at Issa’s Vista office, with a message about providing health care for all.

“Their signs were all over the political map, from ‘Save ACA’ and ‘No Wall, No Ban,’ to ‘Protect Planned Parenthood,’” Phil Diehl writes.

A press release from Indivisible San Diego said about 50 people also gathered outside Hunter’s Temecula office, and another 40 in El Cajon, to talk about supporting an investigation into Russian interference with the election, Hunter’s private use of campaign funds, and preserving the Affordable Care Act.

Hunter reportedly declined to meet with these groups, but this week he broke from his normal support of President Trump to write a piece for Fox News against Trump’s plan to cut the Coast Guard’s budget to pay for a border wall.

Hunter called the Coast Guard’s $9 billion a “shoestring budget,” and said the plan to cut $1.3 billion was “appalling.” He tied the Coast Guard’s mission directly to Trump’s goal of increased border security and law enforcement.

Hunter has been seen as a major supporter of the Coast Guard – going so far as to say which ships it should buy, even when the Coast Guard doesn’t want them. Although last month, Hunter cancelled an appearance at a ceremony designating San Diego the country’s second largest Coast Guard City.

A New Player Has Entered the Game

Wednesday morning, environmental attorney Mike Levin announced he was running against Issa in the 2018 election.

The Union-Tribune reports Levin is the former head of the Democratic Party in Orange County, and though his statements haven’t addressed him by name, Levin will also be squaring off against Democrat Doug Applegate, who narrowly lost to Issa in the last election.

Levin gave a fiery but brief speech at a town hall style event in February that Issa declined to attend. Instead Levin and dozens of Issa’s critics spoke in favor of the Affordable Care Act and environmental protections.

At the meeting, Levin offered Issa a copy of “Climate Change for Beginners” and questioned the qualifications of the contractor that would run a site in Texas, where Issa wants to move the nuclear fuel from San Onofre.

The Applegate campaign has not yet commented on what the new contender means for the race.

Also in the News

Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a brief in a San Diego Superior Court, asking the judge to uphold the California Coastal Commission’s decision to allow the storage of nuclear waste at San Onofre. (KPBS)

A homeless man, who threatened to kill himself, was fatally shot by deputies in San Marcos. (Union-Tribune)

San Marcos Unified School District tested its water for lead, which resulted in the removal of a water fountain that had unacceptably high levels. (NBC 7)

Bonsall is weighing plans for a new high school, after a $58 million bond measure was defeated last year. (Union-Tribune)

Only three of Encinitas’ 81 restaurants that use polystyrene food containers have applied to the city’s program that helps restaurants pay for the switch to sustainable products. (The Coast News.)

New seawalls have been approved by the Del Mar City Council without opposition, a rare case in California. (Union-Tribune)

Medical Marijuana advocates in Vista hit the “reset” button on their petition, after several pages of signatures were invalidated for lacking the proper title of the measure. (Union-Tribune)

While Tijuana was making headlines for a massive sewage spill, Carlsbad had its own problem during the recent storm. (Union-Tribune)

Disclaimer, I work in IT for the Surfrider Foundation, which advocates for styrofoam bans and against seawalls.

    This article relates to: Must Reads, News, North County Report

    Written by Ruarri Serpa

    Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at ruarris@gmail.com and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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