A massive law enforcement crackdown Thursday led to the arrest of 50 alleged members and associates of the West Coast Crips street gang, accused of crimes ranging from execution-style murders to enlisting high school students as drug traffickers, according to U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy.
Operation True Blue involved more than 500 federal and local law enforcement officers as they hit dozens of locations across San Diego County, looking for suspects, guns and drugs.
Thirty-one federal suspects and 19 state suspects were arrested, and officers seized more than 16 guns, many rounds of ammunition, 4.5 pounds of methamphetamine, 4,400 pounds of marijuana, and $300,000 in counterfeit bills.
“Today, we cut off the arm of the West Coast Crips,” said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
In all, 55 people — five of whom are still considered armed and dangerous fugitives — have been charged in federal and state court for their part in drug and gun trafficking conspiracies. Defendants range in age from 18 to 51 years old and live in San Diego, Spring Valley, El Cajon, National City, Lemon Grove and Long Beach.
A suspected leader of the Crips, Randy Alton Graves, was arrested Thursday around 6 p.m., the FBI said. According to a racketeering complaint, court-authorized wiretaps caught Graves making grave threats over a female gang associate that he feared was going to report a murder to police.
The complaint alleged that Graves told another member, “You run your mouth, you die, period. You run and hide; we get the next closest thing to you, period; no ifs ands or buts.”
He was also overheard bragging about his own past killings, the complaint said. Graves is believed to be driving a baby blue Mercedes with paper license plates, and the FBI said if anyone knows of his whereabouts, call 858-320-1800.
Three federal complaints unsealed Thursday outline three separate and increasingly sophisticated conspiracies allegedly carried out by suspected Crips members and associates.
The first charges 17 people involved in an enterprise responsible for five murders, multiple attempted murders, high-speed chases, armed robberies, prostitution, money laundering and the importation and distribution of meth, cocaine and marijuana.
Duffy said they are responsible for one-third of 2013’s gang-related murders and 13 percent of the city’s overall murder tally.
A second complaint claims that last fall, a meth source was using El Cajon Valley High School students to smuggle meth from Mexico into the U.S. Twelve people are charged in that conspiracy.
In the final federal complaint, six alleged members of both the Crips and 5/9 Brim gangs are accused of working together in their meth and firearm trafficking endeavors.
Another 22 defendants face charges of robbery, drug sales and illegal firearm possession and sales through the San Diego County District Attorney’s office.
According to Duffy, the more than 30-year-old West Coast Crips gang claims to have several hundred members. In San Diego, the gang’s claimed territory is bordered by Interstate 94 to the north, National Avenue to the south, Interstate 5 to the west and Interstate 15 to the east.
“The West Coast Crips are particularly volatile and violent, so we anticipate seeing a huge impact when these individuals are removed from the communities throughout San Diego,” Duffy said.
She continued by saying that the most impacted areas should be Logan Heights, El Cajon Spring Valley, eastern San Diego and other neighborhoods dominated by gang activity.