In California and elsewhere, when a street drug operation gets too conspicuous, it may attract unwanted attention and complaints to the local authorities about suspect activities. The police may respond by attempting to make repeated arrests for drug sales and other drug crimes in the reported area. This will tend to have a chilling effect on the suspected activities and may clean them up substantially.
Sting operations in Santa Cruz were recently carried out for similar reasons. According to the Santa Cruz deputies' office, they received complaints from residents about drug sales and suspicious activity near the San Lorenzo River levee. Police say that they responded with undercover purchases from suspects who were arrested.
Five men and two women allegedly sold drugs to undercover agents, which led to their arrests on the suspicion of selling methamphetamine and heroin. However, the description of the charges reported by the Santa Cruz police leaves at least some doubt at this time that each case involved an outright sale to an agent. Thus, four people were reportedly arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs for sale and conspiracy to commit a crime.
One man was arrested for meth and heroin possession as well as a charge of suspicion of possession of drugs for sale. Another man was arrested just on suspicion of possession of drugs for sale. It may be a preliminary glitch in the paper work or the media reports of precisely what occurred. Nonetheless, at this time, the charges do not generally appear to be consistent with actual drug sales. California criminal defense counsel will initially investigate that anomaly to determine exactly what is being charged and what the defendants are accused of doing, prior to engaging in a thorough review and evaluation of the evidence in order to offer advice about the best manner in which to proceed.
Source: santacruzsentinel.com, "Cops and Courts: June 24, 2015: Seven arrested in Santa Cruz drug stings", June 23, 2015