'HUGE VICTORY' IN YORK'S DRUG WAR AS POLICE MAKE 84 ARRESTS
Camacho...says police held off on arrests to keep drug dealers in the dark.
Police say they put the smackdown on York City's street-level drug dealers and their customers during a two-month investigation that involved 11 police agencies and more than 50 officers.
"Operation Smackdown" recently wrapped up -- for now -- and culminated in 84 arrests for felony and misdemeanor drug offenses.
"We'll take the big guys, we'll take the little guys," York County District Attorney Stan Rebert said at a press conference yesterday.
Many of the arrests resulted from the complaints of city residents who were afraid to even sit on their porches because of crime in their neighborhoods, he said.
"This is a huge victory for the City of York," said U.S. Marshal Michael Regan, who participated in the operation, as well as "a big step" in making the city's streets safer.
Springettsbury Township Police Chief David Eshbach said it's not only the city that will benefit from the operation.
"This was also a huge victory for the county of York," he said, because crime doesn't respect municipal boundaries.
"One arrest at a time, day by day, we'll keep at it," Eshbach said.
The operation: Lt. Ron Camacho, who supervises the city's detective bureau and Major Crime Unit, said undercover officers bought drugs from dealers throughout the city, but held off on making arrests so other dealers didn't get wise to the operation.
Officers gave special attention to the 600 block of West Princess Street and the intersections of South Pine and Poplar streets and South Pine and Princess streets, he said.
"We conducted many search warrants, which led to more drugs and more money," he said.
Officers also targeted drug buyers, Camacho said. Police chose an area known for its drug sales ( he wouldn't say where ), then rousted all the dealers, had an undercover officer act as a drug dealer, and arrested the people who tried to buy from him, Camacho said.
Local, federal funds: The operation was funded by the York County Drug Task force and by funds from Project Safe Neighborhood. Regan, the U.S. marshal, said the project funds police overtime.
Last year, Project Safe Neighborhood gave York City more than $60,000, said Regan, adding this year's figure will likely be even higher.
During Operation Smackdown, a state police trooper acting as a buyer was robbed but unhurt.
"He was in an alley and one guy pulled a gun on him," said first assistant district attorney Bill Graff.
And officers involved in the operation were also instrumental in the arrest of Shane Liggins, 18, of Springettsbury Township, now charged with the March 7 homicide of Edward "Roi" Harrison, 25, of Wallace Street.
Camacho said detectives were looking for Liggins, but it was undercover "smackdown" officers who spotted and arrested him.
More arrests coming: York City Detective First Class Andrew Shaffer, who also serves on the county Drug Task Force, said police have another 18 to 20 arrests to make for dealers targeted during Operation Smackdown.
In addition to the arrests, police seized 63 grams of cocaine worth $6,300; 1,536 grams of marijuana worth $15,360; and 75 grams of heroin worth $22,500; as well as $11,153 in cash, 12 vehicles and several firearms, Camacho said.
Assisting York City Police were state police, the U.S. Marshal's Service, the York County Drug Task Force, county detectives, the Attorney General's Office, West York Police, York Area Regional Police, Northeastern Regional Police, Springettsbury Township Police, Fairview Township Police and the office of District Judge Ronald J. Haskell Jr., as well as the city's Nuisance Abatement Division, Major Crime Unit and the anti-gang USA Squad. [/FONT]