BOSTON (CBS) – Dozens of alleged gang leaders and members were rounded up in early morning raids on the North Shore Friday.
Federal agents, along with state and local police, descended on neighborhoods in Lynn and Lowell in a targeted drug and firearms sweep dubbed “Operation Melting Pot.” In all, 37 locations were swept.
61 people were charged, 37 of them put in jail. The suspects face a range of weapons and drug charges. According to Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio, those arrested were, “primarily the leaders, members and associates of feuding Bloods and Crips street gangs.”
FBI agents worked with State Police and members of the Lynn and Lowell police forces in the coordinated raids, which capped an investigation that began in the summer of 2009.
Over the course of the entire investigation, major firepower was taken off the streets. More than forty firearms were confiscated, including machine guns, assault rifles and sawed off shotguns. Crack, cocaine, heroin, marijuana and more than $40,000 in cash has been recovered.
“Neighborhoods in Lynn and Lowell are much safer today than they were yesterday,” said Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI. “No longer will senseless violence from a decade-long feud keep the community hostage.”
“When you look at this array of weapons, and how many lives were saved, it’s remarkable,” added Lowell Police Superintendent Ken Lavallee.
Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger said he anticipates violence in his city will drop dramatically following Friday’s arrests.
“Anytime you can take weapons off the street it’s huge. It sends a message,” he said. “We will target you, we will prosecute you…to the full extent of the law.”