Arrests made in Baltimore ATF sting announced

BALTIMORE -  

A total of 24 suspects were the targets of yesterday morning's ATF and city police raids.

ABC2 first broke this story and was there as authorities gathered their evidence for this case, a case mostly involving the sale of drugs within just a few blocks that police say fueled a spike in violent crime in the Franklin Square and Penrose neighborhoods

"Our hope is that the arrests of these individuals as the commissioner said not only gets bad guys off the street and makes our city safer, but hopefully will lead through intelligence gathering to other cases and other unsolved crimes," said Baltimore State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein.

Solving other crimes as a result of yesterday's bust it would certainly be the icing on an already decent sized cake.

ATF, city police, the US Attorneys office and the state's attorneys still recently minted major investigations unit cooperated on this three plus month long sting.

Undercover agents developed the list of 24 targets through 35 undercover drug buys of heroine, crack and cocaine.

A drug ring police say is partly to blame for 10 shootings and one murder in recent months.

"Although these individuals have not been directly charged with the violence down there, they are absolutely contributing to the violence within that neighborhood and are a driving force within that neighborhood," said Baltimore Deputy Commissioner John Skinner.

Police go on to point out that most of these suspects have long and violent criminal histories and pulling them out of that West Baltimore community should stabilize the area.

A targeted enforcement these authorities hope stems a West Baltimore crime surge.

While this was originally developed as a state case, federal prosecutors will review these charges to determine whether or not to bring stricter federal charges.

More Details of this week's raids:

The arrests of several individuals believed to be involved in large drug operations were announced Friday at a special press conference.

Officials with the Baltimore Police Department say the arrests were in connection to an ATF-headed operation that targeted several areas in the City of Baltimore Thursday.

At least four locations were targeted as a part of the ATF Violent Crime Impact Team (VCIT) investigation in conjunction with Baltimore Police. It was an investigation that spanned at least several months.

Investigators say about 24 arrests were expected as a part of the operation. As of about 1 p.m. Friday, about half of those arrests had been made.

VCIT is comprised of federal law enforcement agents from the ATF, accompanied by Baltimore Police Department investigators. The team studies spikes in violent crime, works to define origin and then attempts to take down what they believe to be the root of the problem.

Check back with ABC2 News as we continue to develop this story.

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