Historic drug raid in Kingston nets 101 arrests
More than one hundred arrests were made in and around Kingston early Saturday morning as part of "Operation Clean Sweep." The largest raid in Ulster County history, results in 536 felony charges. Our John Wagner has more.
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KINGSTON, N.Y. -- "The streets are safer today then they were yesterday, that's clear," said Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright.
An undercover investigation dating back to August, Operation Clean Sweep, results in arrest, after arrest, after arrest. 101 suspects now sit in Ulster County Jail.
"The message is loud and clear," said Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo. "We're not open for business, for gang related activities, for drug sales, it's enough."
Police targeted gangs by hitting them where it hurts, their street level narcotics trade. After months of undercover drug buys, close to fifty Bloods, Crips, and Blackout members were among those arrested Saturday morning when officers barged into homes in, and around, Kingston.
"So many of them had multiple felony convictions, so many of them have guns and robberies and assaults on their records," explained Carnright. "If we can put them away on the narcotics charge, they're not going to be committing robberies, they're not going to be committing the guns charges."
"These are charges that will put people away for a significant amount of time, and we're hoping that, in that time frame, the city can then move forward," said Kingston Chief of Police Egidio Tinti.
Officers began raiding homes at 4 a.m., with the majority of the arrests coming in midtown Kingston. While more than a hundred convicts sit behind bars, police say they need the public's help more than ever to make Kingston a safe place to live.
"They need to help themselves, they need to help to do some monitoring," said Carnright.
"I've gotten many phone calls over the past few months," continued Tinti. "Why aren't you doing something about this? I see something happen outside my window, we are. Just because you don't realize it, doesn't mean we aren't doing something about it."
170 law enforcement agents headed up by the Ulster County District Attorney's office, Kingston Police Department, Ulster County Sheriff's Office, and the State Police kept "Clean Sweep" a secret.
"We had the broom out there as a symbol of the sweep that we conducted," said Tinti. "But the rest of the investigations that follow will essentially be dustpans. We will be picking up the pieces that we couldn't do today."
Fourteen suspects are still at large and Kingston Police said they'll keep up the heat.