Deputies arrested 49 suspects facing federal charges and took dozens more into custody while shutting down a North County drug dealing operation Thursday.
Arrest and search warrants were served in Fallbrook, Bonsall, Encinitas, Vista, Oceanside, Rainbow and Lake Elsinore from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDSO).
“We believe--and statistics support it--that drug users and drug dealers and drugs, in general, are the biggest nexus to other crimes that are committed in the community from burglaries to auto thefts to vehicle break-ins," said SDSO Sgt. Patrick Yates from the Crime Suppression Team. "Any sort of theft whatsoever.”
The suspects face federal and state charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, possessing stolen property or drugs, burglary, resisting arrest and violating patrol, said deputies.
In the sweep, deputies arrested a dozen people identified from a previous operation as well as other drug dealers. They seized stolen weapons and items traced back to more than 13 house burglaries in Fallbrook.
Deputies recovered a pickup truck, household items, electronics, furniture, tools, toys, shoes and clothing. That also included $15,000 worth of custom carved wooden bowls that went missing back in August.
Those arrested involved 11 suspects from Fallbrook, two from Bonsall and one from Rainbow. Deputies withheld the identities of 11 other suspects because they are still part of ongoing investigations.
In January 2017, the sweep dubbed "Operation Double Down" was launched to follow up on Operation El Nino. Deputies said their objective was to stop drug dealers who would fill the jobs of those arrested in the previous sweep back in the summer of 2016.
“If you can bring down drug dealers, and therefore, affect the drug trade and the use of the drugs, the climate of your area is definitely going to be affected in a positive way," added Yates.
Over the course of nine months, deputies at the Fallbrook Sheriff's Substation, Sheriff's Special Investigations Division (SID) and Criminal Intelligence Detail (CID) carried out more than 50 undercover operations. While undercover, deputies bought fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine from the suspects.
Each suspect in Thursday's sweep faces varied sentences depending on their individual crimes. Deputies are currently working to return the stolen items to their owners.