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Phase two drug sweep nets 21
Hall and Gainesville officials round up suspected dealers
A suspected drug dealer is escorted to a bus to await transfer Friday to the Hall County jail during a roundup of drug dealers. The action was “phase two” of a roundup three weeks ago in southeast Gainesville in which 29 people were arrested. On Friday morning, 21 people were arrested. - photo by Tom Reed
They weren’t quite finished.

On the heels of a sweep of southeast Gainesville three weeks ago that netted 29 arrests, Hall County sheriff’s officials and Gainesville police were back out Friday morning, rousing suspected drug dealers from their beds with arrest warrants.

As of late Friday, 21 of 37 suspects had been arrested in what has been termed "phase two" of the roundup operation. Most are charged with the sale of crack cocaine to undercover officers, in many cases captured on surveillance video.

Sheriff Steve Cronic said the operation, which began in March, was aimed at the "hardest hit" neighborhoods of Hall County, where open-air drug dealing is rife.

"Our hope is these residents should see a significant improvement in their quality of life," Cronic said.

In all, 71 people were indicted in the past month on charges of mid-level drug dealing.

Phase one was staged in the Floyd Road/Old Athens Road area of Gainesville. Friday’s phase two, which involved more than 40 deputies and police officers, was conducted on Monroe Drive off U.S. 129, where suspects were brought to a mobile command center to be processed before being taken to the Hall County jail.

Hall County Commissioner Deborah Mack said she was optimistic that drug deals made on the streets of her district would subside in the wake of the arrests.

"I think the message is getting out," Mack said. "It’s not going to be tolerated in this neighborhood anymore."

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