55 Indicted in Massive North County Heroin and Meth Takedown

Earlier this year, San Diego police arrested dozens of people believed to be amongst North County San Diego’s biggest criminal gun and drug dealers in a massive takedown. In total, 55 men and women were charged in 10 federal indictments that allege heroin and methamphetamine trafficking, along with illegal gun possession, money laundering, robbery, theft, assault, and burglary. By March 1st, 46 out of the 55 suspects were in custody.

The arrest was part of a year-long investigation involving wiretaps, surveillance, and 150 cops.  Acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson says many of the defendants are connected to drug traffickers in Tijuana (most likely the Sinaloa cartel). Mexican drug cartels then used San Diego gang member as distributors of their heroin.

It is reported that eight defendants currently remain at large, two of which are believed to have fled to Mexico. One of them is Yadira “Pini” Villalvazo, who prosecutors identified as the leader Tijuana operation, and imported and distributed heroin in North County to send tens of thousands of dollars back to Mexico. Authorities said the investigation also targeted meth traffickers.

Heroin Laws in California

The possession and sale of heroin is still a crime in California even though there have been a couple reforms that would steer the penalties for first-time offenders towards rehabilitation instead of jail. In 2001, California voters passed Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act (SACPA). SACPA mandates that those arrested for non-violent drug offenses be offered the opportunity for treatment instead of jail time. Prop 47, passed in 2015, made possession of heroin a misdemeanor for first time offenders and many other cases. Penalties can include a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

However, it is a felony if you have a prior conviction for possession or if you also have a record for other serious felonies such as manslaughter or a sex crime. See CA Health and Safety Code § 11350. Possession for the sale of heroin remains a felony no matter what, and it is punishable by three to five years of imprisonment and a fine up to $20,000. See CA Health and Safety Code § 11351. You are not eligible for the drug diversion program if you have this conviction.

Selling or transporting heroin is probably the most serious of drug crimes, punishable by up to 25 years in prison. The number of years you face depends on the amount you are convicted of selling or transporting.

San Diego Criminal Defense and Drug Crime Defense Attorney

The Law Offices of David M. Boertje has handled all types of misdemeanor and felony criminal cases in San Diego County. Do not try to fight criminal drug charges alone. While California has made many progressive changes in its criminal law system for low-level offenders, felony heroin charges are serious. If you have been charged or arrested with any drug crime, contact attorney David Boertje today. Consultations are free and confidential.