Illegal migrant camps still active in San Diego, little being done

Nearly two weeks after a group of illegal immigration activists stumbled upon prostitution in McGonigle Canyon in San Diego, there is little to show the community in the form of action.

The San Diego Police Department’s slow reaction has caused many to scratch their heads wondering why it is taking police so long to remove the illegal migrant campers.

“What are you doing out here?” asked one resident about this reporter. “If it wasn’t for you reporting this nothing would be done. I’m scared to visit the canyon any more.”

After several days of speculation, SDPD Capt. Rosario said there would be a mobile command van placed in the canyon as well as some quads and horses.

A quick visit inside the police mobile command unit shows a communication network, radios and a television for the officers who are stationed inside the van. Again, there was no word about the SDPD actually being on foot inside the canyon where the prostitution is taking place.

“We plan to have the van out there 24/7 for the next week,” Rosario said. “I have a feeling the prostitution is part freelance and part organized, but I’m not exactly sure.”

Capt. Rosario revealed that the SDPD had successfully placed six ’72-hour notice to vacant signs’ on migrant squatters homes.

Local activists continue to offer their assistance to the San Diego Police Department, informing the department they can locate more than six camps in 10 minutes and that there are at least several dozen suspected camps located throughout the two mile-long canyon. Leaving one to question whether this is a genuine or half-hearted effort by the SDPD to locate and remove the illegal squatters.

On Thursday, a quick check by citizens of a long-time popular migrant camp site area just below a neighborhood park revealed a large untagged camp and another one next to it under construction. Only 20 minutes after finding and photographing the camp site, a Latino man was observed riding his bike through the canyon on the main road and then entering the dense brush to this camp.

Earlier in the week, Lt. Dan Plein was in the Rancho Penasquitos region and walked through a number of active migrant camps. In less than 45 minutes, he discovered more than 10 sites.

“I’m new to this particular police department, but I wanted to get out here and see for myself what we are dealing with,” Plein said.

When pressed for information about policy and what residents could expect, Plein smiled, and declined to answer. “I’ll have to defer to my Captain on those issues. We simply assess the situation, write an in-depth report and wait for orders,” he explained.

One resident with plenty of questions is Julie Adams. “I kept asking the officer, ‘if I pitch a tent here what would you do? Would you ticket me? Arrest me?’”

Again, not much of an answer from SDPD Lt. Plein.

The migrant camps Plein was able to visit had multiple fire hazards as well as a water line taken from the cities irrigation lines. “Looks they are stealing water from the city,” Adams points out. “They just go to Home Depot and buy a hose and knob.”

Inside the illegal camp sites the migrants call home are plenty of empty alcohol containers. Along side the empty bottles are cigarette butts, candles, propane stoves and mattresses for their beds.

Some of the camps are put together rather well. They have one area for sleeping, another for their kitchen and yet another for washing their dishes and clothes. Campsites often are well-hidden in ravines near small creeks, but they are never far from main roads and neighborhoods.

In addition to the inhospitable conditions inside the camps one has to wonder what impact these migrants are having on the environment. The water they use meanders about five miles into the Pacific Ocean. They also use the bushes as their public restroom and leave the tissue for all to see. Broken beer bottles and trash litter the canyon area. This has to have some sort of environmental impact on the region.

Yet many migrants simply pull up the stakes on their tarps or tents and move to a new location when they have been tagged for eviction by CalTrans or SDPD.

“The camps are getting harder to find,” said Jeff Schwilk, who regularly checks the canyons for illegal activity and forwards tips to the SDPD. “They are getting smarter at hiding in the deeper thickets.”

If the SDPD really wanted to clear these folks out, residents and activists say Border Patrol should be called in to remove the law-breaking immigrants, but according to one resident that is not an option.

“Border Patrol told us that if they come into the canyons the migrants will set the canyon on fire,” he said.

That’s a hefty threat coming from a group of men who are mostly here in this country illegally.

As far as the placement of the mobile police unit, it seems to be nothing more than a sign to illegals and possible prostitution organizers, you better steer clear for the next week.

The multiple issues that surround the San Diego Canyon region can be solved. It will require local leadership to step up and tackle the issue head on.

This will be extremely hard to do as San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders refuses to return any phone calls. Residents cling to the hope that something will be done before San Diego’s next fire is in their living room.

For recent video of active camp sites;

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About thekdreport

Investigative journalist

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