Over the last two days, police in Manchester arrested 30 street-level heroin dealers. Three were on Wednesday and at least 27 on Thursday since 5 o’clock in the morning.
Police are calling it Operation Clean Sweep. Eight arrest teams were sent out Wednesday with a list of thirty-four names. And other agencies like the FBI, DEA, ATF, ICE and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department all assisted. Chief David Mara says the investigation took several months and he hopes to do more operations like this more regularly.
“It’s a quality of life issue. People work, play and live in these neighborhoods. We cannot accept that this is going on, so it’s very important to demonstrate that it can’t go on.”
Undercover narcotics officers often describe a three-tiered system including suppliers from Lawrence, mid-level dealers and street-level dealers. Clean Sweep focused on street-level dealers, who police say are virtually all addicts.
Mara says arresting low-level dealers temporarily reduces the most visible crimes in the city. And, he says, these arrests won’t negatively affect any investigations aimed at catching the higher level dealers.
Ultimately, Mara says “you can’t arrest the drug problem away.” He believes more should be done to improve treatment options and prevent addiction, which often starts with prescription painkillers.
Police also seized 60 grams of heroin during the arrests.