San Diego and it’s surroundings have a long history of accepting immigrants. Much of this started after the Vietnam war when Vietnamese refugees were temporarily kept in a makeshift city on the Camp Pendleton Marine base. Indeed, throughout the last thirty or more years, this area has been a hub for those fleeing conflict zones. This includes El Cajon, a city of 100,000 situated about thirty minutes northeast of downtown San Diego, dubbed “Little Baghdad” because of the large Iraqi population that has settled here over the past few decades. As a new war erupted in Iraq, El cajon was again a place for Iraqis to take refuge. Some came because they had family members there, and others because they knew that it was a hub of Iraqi culture in a faraway place that they had little knowledge of.
Recently El Cajon was the site of law enforcement operation which netted thousands of dollars in illegal drugs and led to the arrest of over fifty people. It is thought that a suspected crime ring partnered with a powerful Mexican drug cartel and an Iraqi crime syndicate based in Michigan.
The San Diego Reader has a great article that was published yesterday detailing the community and the feelings that the raid has generated. It is worth a look.