SAN DIEGO–Ten people with links to three criminal street gangs are facing federal drug and firearms charges after a yearlong investigation uncovered their roles in trafficking and distributing methamphetamine in the San Diego area.
Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and from local and state law enforcement agencies assigned to the Violent Crimes Task Force seized nearly two pounds of methamphetamine and 12 illegal firearms during the course of the investigation, which was dubbed “Operation Tic Toc.” Authorities exposed the methamphetamine trafficking and distribution rings through the use of wiretapped cellular phones and extensive surveillance.
Among the guns found during the investigation were numerous assault rifles; AR-15 magazine-fed, semi-automatic rifles; multiple handguns and shotguns. Investigators also seized approximately 5 drum style magazines capable of holding more than 50 rounds of ammunition. Agents seized more than 3800 rounds of ammunition during the course of the investigation.
After a one-day coordinated takedown Wednesday morning, seven people were in custody and two additional weapons were taken off the streets. A coalition of local, state and federal agents also conducted searches at locations in El Cajon, Mid-City, and Normal Heights.
The suspects were charged in three separate criminal indictments filed Friday in U.S. District Court and unsealed following the arrests. The defendants will begin making initial court appearances tomorrow before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Crawford.
According to the indictments and search warrant affidavits also unsealed Wednesday, the investigation revealed two separate networks of methamphetamine traffickers and distributors operating in San Diego. These individuals had ties to multiple street gangs operating in San Diego, including the East Dago Mob, West Coast Crips, and Asian Crips. During the investigation, agents learned that some of the defendants also sought to trade and acquire firearms in furtherance of their drug trafficking. Investigators executed multiple search warrants to take these weapons off the street.
According to court records, investigators targeted the drug distribution activities of Arthur Lee Bautista, aka “Bone” and David Douglas Moore, aka “Day Day” aka “Double” aka “Doubles.” Bautista and Moore are both documented gang members with the East Dago Mob and West Coast Crips respectively. Through March to July 2015, investigators obtained court authorization to wiretap Bautista and Moore’s cellular telephones. During the intercepted conversations, Bautista and Moore negotiated and coordinated the acquisition and distribution of controlled substances such as methamphetamine, cocaine-based narcotics, heroin and prescription pills to various sub-distributors and gang member associates.
During the course of the investigation, agents conducted multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine from Bautista and Moore and identified their criminal associates and methamphetamine sub-distributors. On June 1, agents executed a search warrant at Bautista’s residence and storage locker and seized twelve firearms, 3,800 rounds of ammunition, and numerous high-capacity magazines. On July 23, agents executed a search warrant at a stash house operated by Moore’s associate, Abraham Chavez, and seized 355 grams of methamphetamine, according to court records.
Agents also identified a small methamphetamine distribution cell allegedly headed by Tony Chau, aka “Asian Tony” and Oanh Ho, aka “Kim” and conducted multiple controlled purchases from them. Chau and Ho are associates of the Asian Crips street gang. During the course of the investigation, agents recovered approximately 119.2 grams of high-purity methamphetamine from Chau and Ho.