SEATTLE – Seattle and federal law enforcement announced 95 arrests Thursday in a major crackdown on drug dealing and other crimes in the city's downtown core.
Open air drug dealing has been an ongoing issue in a 9 ½ block area primarily centered on Third Avenue and Pike and Pine streets, police said.
Officials with the Seattle Police Department and FBI say there were 10,000 calls for police response in that area in 2014. Those included drug deals, thefts, shootings, stabbings and other assaults.
"Seattle residents and visitors should not be forced to navigate a dangerous open-air drug market between the downtown retail core and Pike Place Market," said Mayor Ed Murray.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said 37 people have been indicted.
Seattle police say undercover officers made 177 purchases of heroin, crack cocaine, meth, prescription drugs and marijuana. All the purchases were caught on hidden camera. Police posted some of those on YouTube.
Some of the sellers have been convicted in the past for attempted rape, robbery, burglary, assault, drug trafficking and illegal use and possession of firearms. Seattle police say they had previously contacted some of the suspects more than 100 times.
"This operation is about much more than locking up offenders. It is about taking back a key part of our city by addressing the range of factors that allowed it to become a one-stop shop for drugs," said Acting U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.
Going forward, the city says its 9 ½ Blocks Initiative will bring additional Seattle police foot and bike patrols between First Avenue and Westlake Park and between Stewart and Union streets.