SAN DIEGO (AP) — Seven active-duty Marines, seven former Marines and a Navy sailor were among 50 people arrested in a law enforcement sweep that busted up crime rings allegedly dealing in illegal drugs, stolen military gear and cars, San Diego authorities announced Thursday.
Undercover detectives infiltrated the rings across San Diego County, then invited suspects to an undisclosed storefront. The suspects were videotaped selling agents illicit goods, including weapons, stolen cars, cocaine, methamphetamine, and military contraband, including bullet-proof vests, Kevlar helmets, night-vision goggles, gas masks, and more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition and high-capacity magazines, said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
Authorities said the eight-month investigation called Operation Perfect Storm led to a 64-count indictment. More than 90 witnesses testified at the grand jury, and the suspects were arraigned Thursday.
Charges include vehicle theft, gun possession and insurance fraud, among others.
Dumanis said the case yielded nine firearms and 92 stolen vehicles worth nearly $700,000.
The operation was conducted by the Regional Auto Theft Task Force, in cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The military was happy to help in the effort, said Chuck Warmuth, special agent in charge of the NCIS at the Marine Corps office at Camp Pendleton.
“NCIS is gratified we were able to use our federal resources in partnership with other area law enforcement agencies to help make our communities safer. Crime degrades the quality of life for every family,” he said at a news conference.
No further details about the suspects were released.