Cops decided to send a message to drug dealers operating in West Philly right before Halloween.
Over three days last week, 64 suspects were arrested, and thousands of dollars worth of drugs were taken off the streets, as were 15 firearms and three vehicles, police announced Wednesday.
The raid began Oct. 26, with the execution of warrants to arrest certain individuals and bust up specific locations used for drug sales. On Oct. 27, police made arrests at open-air drug markets. On Oct. 28, bike cops and foot patrols saturated the area.
“It sends a message to bad guys that they’re not going to deal drugs with impunity,” said Narcotics Division Chief Inspector Dan McDonald at a news conference Wednesday.
The raid was intended to “deal with gang violence in the area” and “attack sources of violence” by going after the drug trade, according to the police department.
Police activity centered around 40th and Ogden streets, but extended as far as 52nd Street, officers said.
Inspector Verdell Johnson, commanding officer of Southwest Police Division, rode on Friday with about 50 bike cops on a bike patrol through the 16th police district, where the raid took place.
“People were waving at us, they were happy to see us. We had people coming up telling us they appreciated the hard work that we did,” he said. “It let the kids know that the police are here and they’re not your enemy.”
Among the items seized was a large marijuana plant one officer estimated at a street value of $50,000.
“Because it’s so large, once broken down into the street value, that’s roughly somewhere in the area of $50,000 worth of drugs,” said Melvin Singleton, commanding officer of the narcotics field division.
Further investigations are looking into whether the 64 suspects are tied together in a criminal organization. And the guns seized during the raids are still being processed to determine their exact ownership, McDonald said.
“If you’re living in that community and they’re selling drugs in the house next door, they’re not going have 10 kilos in the house, there’s no Pablo Escobars in West Philly. But these are guys that are really destroying the community,” McDonald said. “We put those people out of business and the people that live on those blocks can now go sit on their front steps. Their kids can go outside and play.”
In a neighborhood struggling with poverty where crime rates are high, officers at the news conference said the raids were intended to send a message.
“I hope it says to the community that we’re here to support them, we’re not going to abandon them,” said 16th District Capt. Altovise Love-Craighead. “This is something we have to work on together as a team, but we’re also there to support them in pushing forward to get bad guys off the street.”