Walter Mencken 4 p.m., May 3
El Cajon Police Expose Iraqi/Mexican Drug Ring
SWAT teams from the El Cajon and La Mesa Police departments conducted a joint raid on the Chaldean Social Club on East Main Street in El Cajon Wednesday night. The action was part of an ongoing investigation known as Operation Shadowbox and headed by El Cajon Police Chief Pat Sprecco.
The raid resulted in the seizure of $16,000 in cash and evidence was collected related to an illegal gambling operation. One hundred people present at the club were detained but later released. Per a release prepared by Sprecco, “[c]rimes documented at 811 E. Main include: attempted murder, methamphetamine and marijuana sales, sale of diverted pharmaceuticals, gambling, resisting arrest, illegal liquor sales, and illegal sales of firearms.”
Operation Shadowbox, ongoing since January, has focused on drug trafficking in and around El Cajon, specifically targeting an Iraqi/Mexican drug ring. Police report that the Sinaloa cartel of Mexico has been supplying Iraqi gangs in the United States with drugs for distribution. The Iraqi gangs are also implicated in a money laundering operation between El Cajon and Detroit, Michigan.
Over the course of Shadowbox, authorities have made 60 arrests, most not present at Wednesday’s raid. Property seized has included 13 pounds of methamphetamine, 4 pounds of Ecstasy and various pharmaceuticals such as Vicodin and Oxycontin, a pound of cocaine, heroin, over 3,500 pounds of marijuana, $630,000 in cash, 3 luxury vehicles, 4 improvised explosive devices, and 34 firearms, including semi-and-fully automatic assault weapons.
The operation is still ongoing. In closing remarks Sprecco praised District Attorney and mayoral candidate Bonnie Dumanis as well as U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy “for their assistance in this investigation as we prepare cases for prosecution.”