Sheriff’s undercover drug operation nets 65 arrests in Ramona and Poway

By Karen Brainard

Operation Mountain Shadow, a nearly year-long undercover drug sting in Ramona and Poway,  culminated Tuesday, Sept. 10,  with 65 people taken into custody, about 80 percent of them from Ramona, more arrests expected, and drugs and illegal firearms seized, law enforcement officials announced.

Capt. Bill Donahue with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, flanked by officials representing different law enforcement agencies, announces the 65 arrests in Ramona and Poway through an undercover drug operation at a news conference Tuesday. Next to Donahue is District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and at far left is Lt. James Bovet of the Sheriff's Ramona station. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

“These aren’t low level drug dealers,” District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said at a press conference Tuesday at the Sheriff’s Poway station.

Between 6 a.m. and noon that day, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other partner agencies served 12 search warrants — 9 in Ramona and three in Poway, officials reported.

Evidence seized included 14 pounds of heroin, 56 pounds of cocaine, 93 pounds of methamphetamine, five pounds of prescription pills, 30 grams of marijuana, 76 firearms, one live grenade, and $230,000 in cash, according to the Sheriff’s Department. The drugs have a street value of $2.1 million, reported authorities.

Firearms included AK-47 assault rifles and AR-15 assault rifles.

“The majority of these weapons came out of Ramona,” said Lt. James Bovet of the Sheriff’s Ramona substation.

Some of the firearms seized are displayed at the news conference. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

Those arrested face federal charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled susbstance and could face other state charges, said the Sheriff’s Department. Sentencing, depending on criminal background, could be as much as 25 years in prison.

Sheriff’s Capt. Bill Donahue described those arrested in Ramona as an “older, more experienced group of suspects that have significant priors,” while the suspects in Poway were a younger demographic selling narcotics.

Bovet told the Sentinel that some of those arrested have been selling drugs for 20 years.

Bill Sherman, DEA special agent in charge, said many arrested were more than drug traffickers, and the operation has taken a lot of dangerous criminals off the street.

Drugs seized during the undercover operation included 14 pounds of heroin, 56 pounds of cocaine, and 93 pounds of methamphetamine. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

“Poway and Ramona are definitely a safer place  today,” he said.

Operation Mountain Shadow was launched in October 2012 in response to numerous citizen complaints, said the Sheriff’s Department. Dumanis said they saw a spike in crime in Poway and Ramona that was tied to heroin and methamphetamine trafficking.

“We will track you down and will take your drug operation down link by link,” Dumanis said.

During the crackdown, under-cover Sheriff’s deputies and DEA agents conducted “buy-walk” operations, purchasing meth, heroin, cocaine and firearms from suspects, the Sheriff’s department reported.

Accidental overdoses by heroin users, ages 20 to 29, had risen, the district attorney said, with youths who abused prescription drugs often turning to heroin because it is cheaper and easier to get.

Bovet said that many believe because Ramona is a semi-rural area “they think they can get away with it, and they can’t.”

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department puts up police tape at the end of a street off Old Julian Highway just west of Cinnamon Rock Road Tuesday morning as law enforcement in patrol vehicles and unmarked cars continue to show up at a site where a search warrant was served. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

Child Protective Services took in  children at three of the residences in Ramona where search warrants were served Tuesday through the Drug Endangered Children’s program, Bovet said. Caregivers of those children could face child abuse charges, according to the lieutenant.

Law enforcement officials gather for a briefing at the end of Gunn Stage Road around 9 a.m. Tuesday. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

Approximately 150 Sheriff’s deputies and federal agents partnered in Operation Mountain Shadow. In addition to the Sheriff’s Department, other agencies included DEA Violent Trafficking Team; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Marshals Service; Regional Auto Theft Task Force; San Diego County District Attorney’s Office; U.S. Attorney’s Office; U.S. Border Patrol; Narcotic Task Force; and FBI Violent Gang Task Force.

Related posts:

  1. Deputy’s high school drug sting nets four in Ramona
  2. Drug investigation leads to two arrests in Ramona
  3. Three Ramona adults, one minor arrested in sheriff’s high school drug sting
  4. Residents focus on drug-related crimes at sheriff’s meeting
  5. McGee, five others plead not guilty to selling drugs to undercover deputies

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Sep 10 2013. Filed under Backcountry, Featured Story, News, Ramona, Sheriff/Fire. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

25 Comments for “Sheriff’s undercover drug operation nets 65 arrests in Ramona and Poway”

  1. BowBow

    Well, you need to post the names of those arrested some where in one of the articles….So half of Ramona must be locked up. LOL Seriously needed to be done, and more will be coming up I am sure.

    • March Marie

      i dont think its anybodys buisness and to put all the name is crucial and ignorant for them to do some are family members of other and its embarrassing!and kids of partents could get bullied or harassed by others or the cops!sometimes the sentinel doesnt think befor they do it really does hurt other individuals!!!!!!

      • Concerned

        I agree. Anyone who wants to see names are just drama thriving Ramonians. Don't you all have kids to take care of and keep away from drugs? You should all be happy that these people have been caught and justice shall be served.

        • Reality

          Many people want to know the names of those arrested so they can determine if they are their employee etc. It is their right to know. People will usually be terminated for this behavior. Nothing to do with drama. They just don't want it in the work place. If they don't want to be listed, then don't screw around.

      • Guest

        Tough! The nut don't fall far from the tree. These scumbags deserve no protections under the law. I've lived in this town over 60 years and I'm tired of this garbage so expose this scum!

        • Concerned

          Disagreed. Maybe you should get out of Ramona because you seem as much of a scumbag as the people caught. Mind your own business. You can't say nut doesn't fall far from the tree when you don't even know the nut to begin with. 60 years in Ramona isn't something to be proud of.

      • Debbie

        Look my Grandchildren live in that town… I want to know not only the names of the people but the address….

      • mary

        and the kid went to my school

      • kmb

        I disagree, names should be released. Families may be embarrassed but it may be what they need to see how bad off their family members really are.

    • Guest with respect

      What’s the point of knowing the names of those arrested!! Did it affect your family in any way shape or form?? What do you think this doesn’t affect there own family? Come on stop being so darn judgmental and leave the families out of it!! Ramona really needs to stop being such a drama queen!! Get a freaken life people

      • Parent

        Well my son was arrested in this town for dealing drugs a couple years ago, and his name was put in the paper for all to see. Was it embarrassing, yes, was it a good thing, yes. Maybe it prevented some kid from hanging out with my son, and prevented the easy access to drugs. I wish that I would have known the names of the people that were into drugs before my son got addicted to heroin. Maybe he wouldn't have went to jail, and overdosed. If you don't want your name in the news for bad things, then don't do it.

      • Carrie

        I found out by the Ramona Sentinal, that my daughter's cousin and her cousin's mother were among the arrested. We do not judge any of them. I am sure the judge will have their hands full doing that. Both my daughter and i feel impathy for the related families. This type of behavior comes from bad stuff and bad behavior and good people making stupid decisions over and over again so remember when you do judge that at one time these people were all someone's child and some are still children! I have a son who is 33 and I still call him, Baby. We will always be a child in the eye's of our Heavenly Father. They will pay for the choices they have made and the wrongs they have done. That is what our justice system is for. But, our justice system is in need of much repair! I could write a book of complaints on the justice system and how unjust it is. Anyway, after a year of investigating, the law will propably hit everyone of these people pretty hard. The people we know have mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters and grandparents and I assure you we love our related offenders no less today than yesterday. Our hearts go out to all.

  2. Big Daddy

    Hey Sentinel – When do we get to see the names of those arrested?

  3. Dwayne

    CONGRATS to Ramona Sheriff Department!!!! Job well done.

  4. Herve Auch-Roy

    Congrats to our Sheriff Department !!! Great job !!!
    And, yes, I'd like to read the names of those arrested as well.

  5. Ally

    Ramona Sheriff and Ramona Fire are all amazing. Especially those firefighter pilots!

  6. Guest

    Its nice to read a complete artical for a change. Nice job Karen.

  7. Jane Tanaka MD

    Ramona will have to admit we are not just a rural town now, and face reality that behavioral health issues are needed to be dealt with. Proactive is best, denial is useles. Greg Chick.
    This is a relief… Have been wondering for the past 3 years or more why there hasnt been more of a DEA focus on Ramona… thought our community's concerns were being overlooked… its understandable that it takes time to plan and achieve such huge undercover investigation. Have seen former pts die both in Ramona and coastal SD County of heroin od. Would be great if you can catch those responsible on the 56 and 52 corridors. Also its too easy for people to transport heroin in their body cavities across the border. — Jane Tanaka MD

  8. Sandy

    Are you kidding! That will be a blip on drug sales radar up here. It is pervasive everywhere.

    • Jane Tanaka MD

      Agree , it is pervasive everywhere, and has been for years. …Even in 1997 it would take just 5 minutes for a stranger in town to find a source for Meth in the supermarket parking lots here in Ramona…. now its likely as easy to find Heroin here. .But Ramona is to the heroin trade as Lajolla is to botox treatments in this County. This drug bust will help, some.

  9. Karen

    A partial list of names of those arrested can be found at

    As a parent I think it's important to know who the drug involved members of our community are so that I can protect my family. I once dropped my then 6 yr old daughter off at a neighbors house for a birthday party. Got a funny feeling even though nothing seemed amiss. Went home and checked the Megan's Law website and found that the birthday boys Grandpa, who lived in that home was a dangerous registered sex offender.

  10. Are you kidding?

    As parents, we SHOULD know who the criminals are. To not publish their names is a huge disservice and I’ve seen the Sentinel take a head in the sand approach to naming them. Or to report on any of the crimes except for major ones. Remember Tanner Hendee? He bludgeoned someone with a hammer just a few years ago, nearly killing the person he attacked. Cops said he would go away for a long time. A year later, he comes back to Ramona. Where is he today? Back in jail, awaiting a court date for another attack on someone, citing likely to cause GBI (the same terminology used the first time he attacked someone). And yet, NOTHING reported about it.

    Anyone who doesn’t want names published is trying to fool this community into keeping it all a big secret. Parents, pay attention to who your kids are friends with and if you suspect drug use,,take them to Mcallister on hunter street for a drug test. Save their lives, not the lives of the criminals.

  11. Guest

    These characters need to find a skill since our schools seemed to have failed them. Amway sales?

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