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Citywide raids lead to 17 drug arrests

Police cracked down on drug dealing in Lackawanna on Friday morning, when authorities from several local agencies teamed up and fanned out across the city to raid homes of suspected drug dealers.

Police arrested 17 people -- ranging in age from 18 to 61 -- and seized cash, cocaine, marijuana and several vehicles. The raids were dubbed "Operation Cheap Suit."

The arrests should slow down the drug dealing in Lackawanna -- at least for a little bit, said Capt. Joseph Leo, Lackawanna's chief of detectives.

"It was prescription drugs, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, marijuana," Leo said. "Any kind of drugs you need, you could buy them out here."

Police didn't break up a ring, but targeted numerous neighborhood drug dealers identified by law enforcement with the help of resident complaints and information culled from previous arrests, Leo said.

The raids were part of a six-month investigation, led by Lackawanna investigators Aaron Brennan and Chuck Jaworski, with help of several surrounding agencies, Leo said.

The raids involved Lackawanna, Buffalo, Hamburg and Lancaster police, as well as the Erie County Sheriff's Office, State Police, State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Marshals Service.

Teams of officers hit the streets at about 5:30 a.m. and rounded up suspects over three hours, Leo said. The 17 were taken to the Erie County Holding Center, and most will be arraigned Monday, Leo said.

Why Operation Cheap Suit?

One of the suspects targeted in Friday's raids mocked an officer in court recently for wearing a cheap suit, Leo said.

Police got the last laugh.

"So we decided to call it "Operation Cheap Suit -- it's kind of an inside joke," Leo said.

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e-mail: jrey@buffnews.com

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