BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Law enforcement officials from state, federal and local levels Wednesday announced the creation of a new initiative to combat crime in Baltimore.
The Baltimore Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Strike Force is designed to weaken and shut down violent gangs and drug trafficking organizations in the city and surrounding areas.
Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Michael Harrison said those groups are a significant part of the city’s crime woes, calling the crime a “cancer” that is “sniffing out lives and destroying families.”
“Baltimore City’s long-standing culture of violence is yet another symptom of a greater problem: the organized crime that goes hand-in-hand with illegal drugs,” he said at a news conference announcing the initiative.
It’s an all-hands-on-deck approach, with 18 organizations, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Police Department, Baltimore County Police Department and Anne Arundel County Police Department, taking part.
“It’s not a time to say, ‘That’s not how we have done it,’ it’s a time to say, ‘What are new ideas we can bring and apply that worked elsewhere?'” said U.S. Attorney Robert Hur.
Officials said the changes need to be swift and effective because lives are being lost daily.
“Together we are stronger,” said Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “Together we can eradicate violence from our streets and achieve the progress we seek and that our communities deserve.”
The strike force’s work has already begun, with the groups involved taking down a drug trafficking organization on Monument Street and a drug distribution conspiracy in southwest Baltimore.
In the Monument Street case, 25 people were arrested earlier this summer. Law enforcement recovered nearly half a million dollars in cash along with nine firearms, more than 14 kilograms of cocaine, 4.5 kilograms of heroin and 479 grams of fentanyl.
Six others were arrested in the southwest Baltimore case.