San Diego police officers are working hard to keep the issues along the Mission Valley riverbed at bay, but it's proving to be a difficult battle in an area that's becomingly increasingly dangerous.
Weekly sweeps by SDPD officers have led to the discovery of a rampant drug problem, theft and environmental risks particularly caused by the homeless community.
The department’s “C-squad” that patrols the area led NBC 7 on one of those sweeps Wednesday evening.
Within an hour of the operation, five transients were arrested including a known arsonist found to be in possession of narcotics. A couple hours later there were two more arrests. Police arrested one man found to have drug paraphernalia, drugs and what looked to be a Phoenix law enforcement badge.
Police say the area has become a danger zone. If you don't watch your step, you might even come across a rigged booby trap or two.
“Most people don't know what's going on down here,” said Sgt. Dean Thomas with the San Diego Police Department. “We've found trip wires down here where if you trip on it, it releases a tree.”
Last May, police say kids were fishing along the riverbed when they found a bone. It ended up being a human bone.
“Little did they know just beneath the surface, about two feet, there was almost an entire body,” said Acting Lieutenant Manuel Del Toro with the SDPD Homicide Unit.
He confirms the body was that of 22-year-old Amy Mitchell who went missing in 2009. The case was out of Oceanside. Police don't know how Mitchell died, but the department is now asking anyone with information to contact them immediately.
Sgt. Thomas says the riverbed problems are endless. However, his team still conducts sweeps at least once a week that, he says, have drastically improved the conditions over the past couple of years.