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29 arrested in crackdown

Residents of Floyd Road area applaud drug sweep operation

POSTED: September 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Sara Guevara/The Times

Hall County sheriff's Deputy Joseph Fusco leads a suspect into a Hall County sheriff's vehicle during a roundup operation that lead to the arrest of 29 individuals as of 2:30 p.m. Thursday. The roundup operation was headed by Hall County sheriff's officials and the Gainesville Police Department.

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Suspected drug dealers were roused from their beds early Thursday by deputies and police with warrants for their arrests in a roundup operation targeting the Floyd Road/Old Athens Road area of southeast Gainesville.

As of Thursday afternoon, 24 of the 34 drug suspects were in custody, and five others were arrested on unrelated charges in the course of the sweep, led by the Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad.

The arrests, which began shortly after 6 a.m., were the culmination of an undercover operation ongoing in the area since March, Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic said in a Thursday morning news conference outside Glory Tabernacle Church, the staging area for the sweep.

The investigation was conducted "at the request of the good citizens here, who for some time have been under siege by street-level drug dealers," Cronic said.

Most of those arrested faced charges of sale of cocaine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute or possession of marijuana. Their cases already have been presented to a Hall County grand jury, which returned indictments prior to the arrests.

Suspected drug dealers were roused from their beds early Thursday by deputies and police with warrants for their arrests in a roundup operation targeting the Floyd Road/Old Athens Road area of southeast Gainesville.

About 20 officers worked on the cases, and 30 Hall County deputies and Gainesville police worked together to arrest the suspects Thursday morning. Each person arrested was brought to a mobile command center at the intersection of Floyd Road and Belair Circle. The sheriff said suspects were brought to the staging area in the neighborhood not only to deter drug activity there, but to show area residents that action is being taken.

"By staging this here, it lets the community know that we are responding to their concerns," Cronic said. Many cars slowed as curious onlookers passed the staging area. One motorist applauded as she drove by.

"I think it’s a good idea," said a woman who lives near the church. She declined to give her name for fear of retribution. "It will show them they can’t be peddling drugs in this neighborhood and get away with it."

The woman said she "noticed a little bit" of drug dealing in the area.

"You can’t help but notice," she said.

Cronic said those arrested were the "day-to-day street-level dealers that directly affect this neighborhood. This is a quality of life issue. These are the foot soldiers when it comes to the sale of drugs."

County Commissioner Deborah Mack, who represents the neighborhood, said she received several complaints from residents.

"People can’t come and visit without being offered drugs for sale," she said.

A similar roundup was conducted in the Newtown area in June 2007, when 24 street-level dealers were arrested.

 



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