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Local officials urge max sentence for man arrested 10 times since 2020

ESCONDIDO — County and city officials are urging the maximum sentence for a man repeatedly arrested and released over the past two years on felony gun and drug charges.

Craig Blas, 32, was arrested in May after police found a handgun magazine, 235 fentanyl pills, 3.56 grams of powder fentanyl, 36 grams of methamphetamine, three fake oxycodone pills that tested positive for fentanyl, a loaded magazine, a digital scale, small bags that appear to be used for selling drugs, a red dot sight for a pistol and $738 in cash on him.

The latest incident marked the tenth arrest for Blas since he was released from prison in 2019.

In 2020, Blas was arrested seven times for felony possession of drugs and weapons. He was detained again in 2021 for drugs, guns and the suspected sale of narcotics. Before that, he was arrested in 2017 for possessing an assault rifle and again the following year for illegal possession of a short-barreled shotgun.

According to court records, Blas has a sentencing hearing scheduled for July 12. County Supervisor Jim Desmond, who has been outspoken on the situation surrounding Blas, said more than 200 letters were sent to the District Attorney’s Office and the judge urging Blas to be sentenced to prison for a long time.

Desmond joined Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara, Deputy Mayor Tina Inscoe, Interim Police Chief David Cramer, and Christi Knight, president of the Escondido Union High School board, for a press conference at the police department headquarters on June 21 to push for sentencing of Blas and urge the laws that allowed him to walk free so many times to change.

“Ten arrests in the last two years is just way too many,” Desmond said.

Desmond said Blas had been released so many times due to the “unintended consequences” of Proposition 47 and Assembly Bill 109.

Proposition 47 was a ballot measure approved by voters in 2014 that turned some non-violent property crimes where the value does not exceed $950 and simple drug possession offenses into misdemeanors. Assembly Bill 109 allows non-violent, non-serious and non-high-risk sex offenders to be supervised at the county level after they are released from state prison.

Desmond said AB 109 brought felons who should be in state prison back into the county jails, which overcrowded them and forced many inmates to be released. According to Desmond, Prop 47 has led to no jail time or rehabilitation services for criminals.

The supervisor also brought up the case of Justin Flores, who killed two police officers in El Monte earlier in June. After shooting the two officers in the head, Flores exchanged fire with other officers who arrived on the scene before killing himself.

Flores, like Blas, also had been arrested several times prior.

Desmond said he would be working with local law enforcement and District Attorney Summer Stephan over the next month to find ways to close the loopholes in the justice system that allow criminals like Blas to walk free.

McNamara said it was time for the community to stand up and take action against the loopholes.

“Criminals need to have consequences, and right now, they don’t,” the mayor said. “It’s time for us to start talking to our elected officials not just here but in Sacramento and say we need to have consequences.”

For the latest crime reports in Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar, please visit The Coast News’ Weekly Crime Reports. For up-to-the-minute arrest reports in North County, check out our Daily Arrest Logs.