Friday, December 17, 2010
Nearly every police agency in San Diego County took part this week in a take down of a criminal ring selling stolen cars, weapons and drugs, according to the San Diego County District Attorney’s office.
SAN DIEGO Nearly every police agency in San Diego County took part this week in a take down of a criminal ring selling stolen cars, weapons and drugs, according to the San Diego County District Attorney’s office.
San Diego County’s Regional Auto Theft Task Force (RATT) indicted 34 people this week on charges of auto theft, insurance fraud and selling stolen cars, controlled substances and guns.
Officers seized 38 vehicles, 12 weapons and a ‘significant amount’ of heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, said Scott Parker, a commander with California Highway Patrol.
“Dozens of gang-related car thieves have been put out of business,” said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “RATT’s hard work continues to have significant impact, lowering auto theft dramatically in the past few years.
The indictments were part of an eight-month-long undercover operation, which began to combat rising auto theft rates in North County.
“Operation Gangbusters” was the first task-force effort to include collaboration with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations officers.
“ICE and the Regional Auto Theft Task have the shared objective of reducing gang-related crime in our San Diego communities,” said Michael Carney, ICE deputy special agent in charge.
“We took numerous weapons out of the hands of criminals and also prevented these weapons from being smuggled south, which fuels the drug violence in Mexico.”
Those arrested range in age from 19 to 57 and face sentences from felony probation to a possible 16 years and 4 months of jail time.
The task force’s efforts have contributed to a significant decrease in countywide auto theft s since 2008, Parker said. That year 21,863 vehicles were stolen across the county. This year authorities estimate about 13,800 will be stolen this year.