‘Operation Hard Candy’ Targets Drug Dealing in San Diego’s East Village

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April 28, 2016 (DISTRICT ATTORNEY) Grand Jury Hands Down 22 Indictments against 31 Defendants

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman announced the results of a month long undercover operation targeting street-level drug dealers in San Diego’s East Village neighborhood that resulted in 22 grand jury indictments against 31 suspects.

“Operation Hard Candy” was a San Diego Police Department-led investigation that began in October 2015 involving SDPD’s Central Division Command Enforcement Team. The operation was launched in response to complaints from residents and businesses about blatant drug sales and open drug use throughout the East Village area.  Undercover officers took to the streets and purchased a wide variety of controlled substances from local street dealers in areas most impacted by narcotics activity.  The types of drugs sold to undercover officers in this operation included methamphetamine, cocaine base, and heroin.

“The presence of prevalent drug-dealing in a neighborhood invariably leads to an increase of other various crimes like robberies and theft,” said DA Dumanis. “Working with SDPD, we were able to respond to the community’s concerns and take a significant criminal element off the streets.”

“Competition between these dealers over control of the drug trade, combined with criminal street gang influence, was creating a dangerous environment for the entire community,” said Chief Zimmerman. “The success of this joint operation with the DA’s Office has made the neighborhood safer.”

SDPD worked with the District Attorney’s Office to secure arrest warrants for suspected drug dealers and facilitators operating in the East Village area.  After a week-long grand jury proceeding, 22 indictments against a total of 31 defendants were handed down.  As of today, 26 of the 31 defendants have been arrested and are in various stages of prosecution.  Twenty defendants have pleaded guilty and are pending sentencing in May.  Charges against the defendants include sales of controlled substances.  Depending on the defendant’s criminal record, penalties could include probation, a drug diversion program, local custody, or state prison.  Arrest warrants are outstanding for the five remaining defendants.

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