San Diego’s illegal marketplaces

San Diego is a corrupt, hedonistic County.  Drugs and prostitutes are so available that the locations are published—and law enforcement has done little to stop it.  Is San Diego trying to become the San Fran of the South?

“The A Mart convenience store is located at the El Cajon Transit Center, a bustling terminal for trains and buses located at 250 South Marshall Avenue on the west side of El Cajon Valley, where Interstate 8 twists north before straightening out again on its journey eastward.

A sign posted on the concrete brick wall proclaims it to be an official “MTS Station Shop,” and inside you’ll find all sorts of snacks, candy, and other typical convenience store fare.

The park-and-ride lot to the north, meanwhile, has become a popular marketplace for black tar heroin and methamphetamine, priced at $5 to $10 a hit and often sold by dealers who live in their cars or motorhomes on the fringes of the vast lot, in the shadow of a bougainvillea-draped berm above which the bright red trolleys glide along.

This article lists just some of the sex, drug and rock and roll you can find in San Diego.  Where is the Mayor?  Where is the Board of Supervisors?  Where is the Police Chief and the Sheriff?  Another reason to flee California—not a decent place for kids.

San Diego’s illegal marketplaces

From Vista to Lemon Grove, From Oceanside to Imperial Beach

By Thomas K. Arnold, San Diego Reader,  2/19/20   

TO SEE COMPLETE ARTICLE CLICK ON HEADLINE

The A Mart convenience store is located at the El Cajon Transit Center, a bustling terminal for trains and buses located at 250 South Marshall Avenue on the west side of El Cajon Valley, where Interstate 8 twists north before straightening out again on its journey eastward.

A sign posted on the concrete brick wall proclaims it to be an official “MTS Station Shop,” and inside you’ll find all sorts of snacks, candy, and other typical convenience store fare.

The park-and-ride lot to the north, meanwhile, has become a popular marketplace for black tar heroin and methamphetamine, priced at $5 to $10 a hit and often sold by dealers who live in their cars or motorhomes on the fringes of the vast lot, in the shadow of a bougainvillea-draped berm above which the bright red trolleys glide along.

“There’s always a bunch of foot traffic,” said one El Cajon police officer who asked not to be identified by name. “People get their EBT cards so they have cash, and now that you’re able to live in your car there’s also mobile distribution, and everyone has cell phones.” If the cops show up, these mobile drug dispensaries simply close up shop and drive away. “You’ll see people with whole sandwich bags full of meth,” the officer says. “It’s become so cheap.”

The El Cajon Transit Center park-and-ride is just one of dozens of spots throughout San Diego County where illegal commerce is thriving. At these clandestine marketplaces, you can buy sexual services, marijuana, heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, and stolen guns and other property.

Just as in the legitimate retail world, online sales have hurt street-crime peddlers, particularly in the area of stolen goods, which are now much more commonly offered for sale on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace than on some street corner or transit-center parking lot. The Internet now accounts for 70 percent of prostitution, though there are still areas around town where street prostitution is prevalent. Street drug sales are now the most prevalent form of illegal commerce, law enforcement officials say. Heroin sales are rising due to tighter controls around prescription opioids, and meth sales are booming due to the drug’s low cost and plentiful supply.

Our map of two dozen illegal commerce spots — spread out throughout San Diego County — was compiled through law enforcement officials; beat cops who walk the streets; executives with non-profits that work with the homeless, addicts and sex workers; and ordinary people who may have done business of some sort at one or more of these underground shops.

Many of these places are known by police, and subject to periodic crackdowns. But for whatever reason — location, access to escape routes, or reputation — they continue to thrive.

We took into account newspaper reports, arrest records, and crime maps, but our focus is not on what’s happened in the past. It’s on what’s happening now.

City of San Diego

  • 17th Street, between Market Street and Imperial Avenue
  • Crack cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, $10 for single-hit baggies

This rough little stretch of road, pushed up against the Interstate 5 freeway on the eastern end of East Village, was overlooked by the redevelopment that transformed the former produce district into a yuppie paradise centered around the Petco Park baseball stadium. No fancy high-rise condos or gastropubs here; just aging bungalows and apartments and a steady parade of vagrants selling drugs. “The dealers use homeless people to move their narcotics for them,” says Bob McElroy of the Alpha Project, a nonprofit that provides housing and other services to the homeless. “And there are a lot of escape routes, with a lot of folks who do this stuff even running out onto the freeway overpass where it becomes the CHP jurisdiction.”

McElroy says the low-income families who live in the area “are fed up with it, and the police are now starting to do enforcement.” In October, a grand jury handed down 30 indictments against 41 accused drug dealers in East Village, nabbed during a summer-long sting. Twelve of the arrests were made on 17th Street.

  • Commercial Street, between 17th and 14th streets
  • Crack cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, $10 for single-hit baggies

More vagrants selling drugs along the trolley tracks that bisect the wide boulevard, the Alpha Project’s Bob McElroy says. “Again, it’s a place that doesn’t have a lot of traffic — you’re kind of out of the way there, and addicts go to places of least resistance, where they can hide in little nooks and crannies.”

  • 14th Street and Imperial Avenue
  • Crack cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, $5 to $10 for single-hit baggies

Home to the Padres Tailgate Parking Lot, this corner is another hot spot for vagrants selling drugs on the street, in “nickel” ($5) or “dime” ($10) baggies. “This corner is a whole other monster,” says one San Diego police officer who asked his name not be used.

  • Main Street, between 31st and 33rd Streets
  • Street prostitution, $50 per act

Hookers routinely walk the street here, turning tricks, generally at night, San Diego police say. Sometimes they venture north to Boston Street, the north side of which is a long parking lot overlooking Interstate 5.

  • El Cajon Boulevard at Kansas Street
  • Street prostitution, $50 per act

Grandly referred to as “The Boulevard,” this was once a key east-west thoroughfare for San Diegans prior to the construction of Interstate 8. There’s even a video clip on YouTube of President John F. Kennedy in a motorcade cruising down the boulevard in June 1963. But since the 1970s, San Diego police say, the area has been a hotbed for street prostitution, particularly near the intersection with Kansas Street, near the Interstate 805 crossover. Tricks are turned mostly in cars parked on side streets. Despite frequent police crackdowns, the hookers remain. “And the majority of them are young,” says Grace Williams, president of Children of the Immaculate Heart, a charity that provides services to sex trafficking victims. “The average age of girls getting into prostitution is 16.”

  • San Diego Hotel Circle South
  • Prostitution, $50 and up per act

The hotels along Hotel Circle in Mission Valley, particularly on the south side, are a popular spot for sex workers to meet up with clients they solicit on the Internet. Grace Williams of Children of the Immaculate Heart says 70 percent of prostitution is generated online, through ads, websites, and “clubs,” and the meeting grounds are often hotels. The problem in recent years has become so bad that in 2016 the San Diego County Regional Human Trafficking and Commercial Exploitation of Children Advisory Council developed a training program for hotels and motels on how to detect signs of human trafficking, such as guests paying in cash, asking for a room away from high-traffic areas, and condom wrappers in the trash.

  • Midway Drive, between Sports Arena Boulevard and Rosecrans Street
  • Street prostitution, $40 and up per act

The Midway District, home to several strip clubs and near the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, is one of the few remaining spots in the city of San Diego where street prostitution is still a problem. And Midway Drive, with its proliferation of strip malls, provides perfect cover for various sex acts in parked cars as well as in hotels south on Rosecrans.

  • Foot of Newport Avenue, Ocean Beach
  • Marijuana, $15 to $20 a gram

The seawall in Ocean Beach at the foot of Newport Avenue is well known as the “go to” spot to buy weed. It’s been that way since the 1960s, when Ocean Beach was ground zero for San Diego’s counterculture. In recent years, with the decriminalization of cannabis, dealing is done much more openly for those who don’t want to contend with dispensaries’ higher prices.

  • Foot of Garnet and Grand Avenues, Pacific Beach
  • Drug sales, various prices

The section of Ocean Front Walk between Garnet Avenue to the north and Grand Avenue to the south has been turned into a pedestrian promenade, wider than the boardwalk to the south and flanked by grassy knolls and a row of oceanfront benches. It’s become a popular hangout for vagrants, and is known through the Pacific Beach community as the place to buy street drugs, from marijuana to heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine.

  • Linda Vista Road and Ulric Street, Linda Vista
  • Drug sales, various prices

San Diego Police report an uptick in gang activity over the summer in the community of Linda Vista, centered around this busy commercial intersection — home to a Vietnamese supermarket and other businesses. Local gangs engage in street sales of heroin, methamphetamine, and heroin.

Carlsbad

  • Pine Avenue Park, 755 Chestnut Avenue
  • Drug sales, various prices

Carlsbad police say there are no illegal commerce sites anywhere in their city, but locals maintain otherwise. A big tree facing the Harding Avenue parking lot at this 7.7-acre community park has become a popular hangout for vagrants who often engage in drug use and drug sales, ranging from marijuana to heroin. One Yelp reviewer in December 2019 bemoaned “the dozens of very verbally aggressive and confrontational homeless people,” and crime reports for that same month show seven drug or alcohol arrests.

Chula Vista

  • E Street, off Interstate 5
  • Prostitution, $60 to $150; Methamphetamine, $15 a gram; Cocaine, $60 a gram; Stolen handguns, $150

E Street east of Interstate 5 is home to several inexpensive motels that are sometimes frequented by hookers and their clients. On the south side of the street is the E Street Transit Center, which, like many other transit centers around the county, has become a hangout for transients. “The Chula Vista Police Department is aware the on/off ramps near the I-5 and I-805 corridor are a more common area to have issues such as prostitution and illegal drug-related sales,” says the department’s Lieutenant Dan Peak. “These areas near the freeway contain trolley lots, motels, and business zones. Chula Vista does not have a ‘red-light district’ where prostitutes gather and walk the streets. Almost all of our human trafficking activity has moved online. A few years ago, it was all available through various websites such as Craigslist and Backpage.com. Recently, federal law enforcement agencies took steps to crack down on and, in some cases, seize these websites. Now, most sex-related advertisements have moved to pay sites. The prostitution activity that does occur is usually driven by Internet listings and takes place in motels, private residences, or in vehicles.”

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. For a once very conservative county, this is very sad to see.
    All due to the influx of illegals. This must be addressed, as well as the rest of the state.

    The real facts on this subject are little reported on and Californians are kept from knowing most of the details of what is occurring all around us.

  2. thanks fro directing me to where i can buy stuff and things. can we have roadmaps for the rest of CA cities? i don’t think SD is any different than any city these days.

  3. Mary M Cunningham says

    With the Avery she 16 at the rl cajon site the John’s should be arrested for child rape and put on a sex registration list as a pedofile.

  4. John Steele says

    AND DA Mayor Faulkner wants to be the Govenor REALLY ???

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