The Buffalo Police Department made 44 arrests this week in the first blitz of the year aimed at attacking the city’s drug dealers.
In addition, police confiscated an assortment of drugs ranging from cocaine to heroin, as well as six guns and $13,000 in cash.
City, suburban, state and federal law enforcement personnel raided 54 drug houses in all sections of the city during a 48-hour period that started Monday and concluded Tuesday. Additional arrests are expected.
“If you’re drug dealing or committing other crimes, this is going to be a very bad year for you,” Mayor Byron W. Brown said during a news conference Wednesday at Buffalo Police Headquarters.
Information on the locations of the drug houses, he said, was received through a number of channels that included citizens placing phone calls to the Police Department’s non-emergency 311 number, the city’s five district police stations, offices of elected officials and Police Headquarters.
“Citizens send us this information and then wait and see what vhappens. Well, this is how those tips are addressed. This operation rooted out many properties where drugs were being sold,” Brown said. “We understand that drug dealing leads to other crimes, and we know it doesn’t stop at the municipal borders.”
Hence, he said, the need for partnering with other law enforcement agencies in the region.
Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda pointed out that a number of the locations raided have ties to past violent crimes and gang members.
“Seventy percent of violent crime involves drugs, and 90 percent of all crime has connections to drugs and alcohol,” Derenda said.
Last year, five coordinated drug raid operations were carried out over multiple days at different times, and “numerous more” are in the planning stages for this year, the commissioner said.
Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards said this latest raid, dubbed “Operation Restoration,” highlights the efforts of the mayor and police force to restore luster and vitality to the many neighborhoods that make up the fabric of the city.
Working with Buffalo police in Operation Restoration were members of the sheriff’s offices in Erie and Niagara counties, the State Police, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI Task Force, state parole and county probation personnel, officers from Amherst, Cheektowaga, Lackawanna, Lewiston and the Town of Tonawanda police departments and workers from the state Department of Motor Vehicles.