SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hundreds of U.S. drug agents and Puerto Rican police swept through public housing projects at dawn Friday on the island's west coast in what officials described as the largest operation of its kind in the American territory.
Authorities planned to arrest about 170 people and seize more than $1 million in property in an attempt to dismantle drug trafficking gangs and reduce crime in Mayaguez during the upcoming Central American and Caribbean Games, said Special Agent Waldo Santiago, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman.
The DEA brought agents from throughout the Caribbean to assist some 500 Puerto Rican police officers in making the arrests and executing search warrants in a coastal area known as an entry point for cocaine and other drugs from the Dominican Republic, across the Mona Passage.
Many of the arrests were targeted at drug operations based in public housing complexes near schools and sports facilities that will be used at the upcoming games, which feature about 600 athletes from about 33 countries and will bring thousands of visitors to Mayaguez.
The games start July 17.
Santiago said Puerto Rican police intend to "assume control" of six public housing complexes to help prevent violence during the games.
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More than 150 sought in Puerto Rico drug operation