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Chula Vista as drug corridor Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Oct 08 2011 12:00 PM

Meth is dubbed the poor man's cocaine because it's cheap, provides a lengthy high and is easily accessible.

What's worse, it doesn't discriminate and could live next door.

Last month, a drug raid in Chula Vista and San Diego uncovered a dozen pounds of methamphetamine and nearly two pounds of cocaine.

With Chula Vista just seven miles from international border and Los Angeles north as a major trans-shipment point, San Diego Border Patrol agent Scott Simon said drug trafficking is a big issue.

"Drugs are smuggled all sorts of ways, including tunnels, boats, aircraft, vehicles and people," he said.

Chula Vista Police Lt. Lon Turner said the Chula Vista Police Department gets regular calls from people who suspect drug trafficking.

"We do what we can to stem the tide," Turner said. "It's one of those things that will never go away. It affects quality of life issues when a drug trafficker moves in next door to you."

Investigators said Julie Muriel Peterson, 36, and Jose Marino Garcia Jr., 26, shared a home in Chula Vista on Inkopah Street which they used to store, weigh and repackage meth.

Another home was raided when authorities found that criminal co-conspirators were either living at or visiting the residence on Fig Street. In total, about $1,200 worth of drugs was seized in both homes.

Authorities said they believe the drugs were prepared for distribution across San Diego and Chula Vista.

Turner, who oversaw the investigation, said the seizure was considered to be a medium to large amount.

The year-long undercover investigation called Operation Jackhammer, which is part of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Taskforce, indicted 24 defendants who were part of a "well-established, lucrative criminal ring with ties to Mexican drug cartels," according to authorities.

Of those indicted on charges of distributing methamphetamine, six were from Chula Vista. Of the 24, 21 are in custody and most of them have been arraigned.

A raid last year around Thanksgiving produced tens of tons of marijuana from under- ground tunnels.

Mexican cartels have created dozens of tunnels under the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years to avoid ramped-up security at ports of entry, most of which linked to cities on either side of Mexico's border with California and Arizona.

Turner said the most difficult challenge in combating drug trafficking is managing efforts with less money and resources.

"With budget cuts it makes it difficult to respond to all the needs in the community because we have less resources available," he said.

Turner said that meth is prominent in Southern California and that has been the trend for the last 20 years.

"If you live in the city of Chula Vista, you will still see drug traffickers driving down the street," Turner said. "But it's significant that we've put some dent in local narcotic sales, which interrupts the supply."

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