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Amid Increasing Violence, 36 Indicted From 3 Alleged Drug Crews

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Prosecutors and police announce three dozen arrests aimed at crippling the heroin trade, that, in no small part, is fueling Baltimore City violence.

Mike Hellgren has details of this operation.

Police gathered street-level intelligence and then worked with prosecutors who made the indictments. They flushed out street-level heroin dealers, neighborhood by neighborhood.

The vicious heroin trade has held neighborhoods hostage. Andy Zak is one of those fed up with the violence in Southwest Baltimore.

“Every tool in their arsenal that they have, they should be utilizing it,” said Zak. “You’ve got to start somewhere, and you cannot let them continue to poison the youths’ lives.”

WJZ has learned police and prosecutors recently charged 36 people in three drug crews. It’s part of a crackdown that includes corners at W. Baltimore and Monroe streets, at Baltimore and Bentalou streets and Frederick Avenue. The state’s attorney says there have been 32 murders and 44 shootings in these areas just since 2010.

“We plot big area maps of the city when there are shootings or homicides. We’re marking it up. And so we can see where the clusters are, where the violence is happening,” said Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein. “Having arrested these individuals and charged them, you’ll see a drop-off in the violence.”

Some who live there aren’t so sure.

“They don’t care about us around here. This is like a neighborhood forgotten,” said Jackie Jackson.

“When they see a police officer come by, they just walk to a different corner and then they walk back as soon as the police leave,” said Monica Stewart.

The drug crews are not connected to big gangs, like the Black Guerrilla Family, but are no less dangerous.

“Many of the defendants have prior histories of violence,” said Bernstein.

With the random violence, Stephanie Newman worries about her elderly mother-in-law.

“Anything can happen, even when they’re sitting in the house. Because a bullet doesn’t have a name or a direction,” Newman said.

She’s hoping for a future, where it’s not acceptable to sell drugs on the corner.

This is a continuing strategy of police developing tips and partnering with prosecutors and hitting multiple neighborhoods.

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