Operation “Veracruz” Targets Coastal Cocaine Dealers
DEC 10-- Today, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis, DEA Special Agent in Charge John S. Fernandes, San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne, San Diego Sheriff Bill Kolender, National City Police Chief Adolfo Gonzales, Chula Vista Police Chief Richard Emerson and ICE Acting Special Agent in Charge Mike Unzueta announced that on December 7, 2004 members of the DEA San Diego County Integrated Narcotic Task Force (NTF), working in cooperation with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, San Diego Police Department (SDPD) Narcotics Unit, the San Diego Sheriff’s Office (SDSO), and Immigration Agents of the Bureau of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) brought the 24-month investigation dubbed Operation Veracruz to a close.
The investigation targeted a prolific cocaine trafficking organization that distributed drugs in the coastal communities of Pacific Beach, Point Loma, Ocean Beach, La Jolla, Del Mar, and Encinitas. This criminal organization was comprised of Mexican nationals, with the higher level members being almost exclusively from the small town of Nautla, Vera Cruz, Mexico (population of 2,900 people), that has been operating in the San Diego area for more than a decade.
Their activities not only have brought drugs to local communities, but also violence. Over 100 Nautlans have been arrested in San Diego County for drug-related violations, and at least 2 individuals from Nautla with ties to drug trafficking have been murdered here in San Diego in recent years. Those homicides remain unsolved.
During the operation, dozens of suspects, to include a dentist, school district employee, and a San Diego City worker, were arrested, and kilogram quantities of cocaine, along with drug money, vehicles and weapons, were seized.
“The dismantlement of this group of drug dealers at the hands of law enforcement will have a significant positive impact in our communities and should serve as a signal to their customers to seek treatment, get clean, or face the consequences,” said John S. Fernandes, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA San Diego Field Division.
“Our Narcotics Division, working in collaboration with Federal, County, and Local law enforcement, will vigorously investigate and prosecute the distributors and users of illegal drugs, and we will use all technology at our disposal to do so,” said District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis.
1. 60 total arrests, to date (See attached)
Summary of Charges
**NOTE**: B-roll footage and photos available upon request.
Point of Contact
Special Agent Misha Piastro, PIO