Bust Nets 65 Arrests, $2.1M in Drugs

Evidence seized in 'Operation Mountain Shadow' included heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and prescription pills worth $2.1 million

By Monica Garske
|  Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013  |  Updated 11:32 PM PDT
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    Operation Nets 65 Arrests, $2.1M in Drugs

    A year-long law enforcement sting dubbed "Operation Mountain Shadow" resulted in 65 arrests and the seizure of $2.1 million in drugs in Ramona and Poway. NBC 7's Todd Strain reports.
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    A law enforcement sweep stemming from a year-long undercover drug operation culminated with the arrests of 65 people on Tuesday and the seizure of various types of drugs, officials confirmed.

    Approximately 150 law enforcement officials from the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other agencies took part in the takedown as part of “Operation Mountain Shadow” in Ramona and Poway.

    Officials served 12 search warrants from 6 a.m. to noon, and arrested suspects on drug charges, including conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

    The operation and sweep netted a whole lot of evidence as well.

    According to officials, evidence seized during Operation Mountain Shadow includes 14 pounds of heroin, 56 pounds of cocaine, 93 pounds of methamphetamine, 30 grams of marijuana and 5 pounds of prescription pills.

    In all, the drugs have an estimated street value of $2.1 million. In addition, 76 firearms and 1 live grenade were seized by investigators, as well as $230,000 in cash.

    Officials say Operation Mountain Shadow was launched in October 2012 in response to numerous citizen complaints.

    During the crackdown, undercover deputies and agents conducted “buy-walk” operations, in which they bought meth, heroin, cocaine and firearms from suspects.

    The suspects arrested in this operation face federal drug charges and possibly state charges. They face varied sentences depending on their criminal background, ranging from probation to 25 years in prison, officials said.

    On Tuesday, the office of U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy confirmed that 12 suspects arrested in Operation Mountain Shadow have been charged with federal drug trafficking and firearms offenses.

    Those in federal custody include: Paulino Aguirre, 68; Johnny Castillo, 42; Christopher Maldonado, 38; John Caudle, 40; Oscar Rodriguez-Torres, 41; Miguel Rodriguez-Torres, 41; Todd Young, 47; Jose Tyoran, 40; and Israel Ornelas, 40.

    The defendants hail from Ramona, Vista, Poway and Spring Valley. Most have been charged with distribution of methamphetamine and conspiracy, while some also face a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm.

    In addition to the DEA and sheriff’s department, agencies that assisted in the year-long operation and Tuesday’s successful sweep included: the U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Attorney’s Office; U.S. Border Patrol; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Regional Auto Theft Task Force (RATT); the San Diego County District Attorney's Office; the Narcotics Task Force (NTF) and the FBI Violent Gang Task Force.
     

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