The no-snitch code of the streets cracked last week, authorities said, when more than 200 local police officers and SWAT team members conducted 102 raids at East Side and West Side drug houses.
Seventy-six suspected drug dealers and users, 16 guns and a laundry list of illegal substances were removed from city streets in two days of executing search warrants. But on Tuesday the big talk was about what the accused were confiding to police.
"A lot of intelligence was gained, including information on recent homicides and the shooting at Martin Luther King Park," Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said. "I think we'll see arrests very soon."
The raids were in direct response to the spike in deadly shootings last month, according to Mayor Byron W. Brown. "We're not going to sit idly by. It will not be tolerated. This sends a very clear message."
There were eight gun-related homicides in May, and all of them remain unsolved. Among the most brazen was the May 12 shooting at a picnic in Martin Luther King Park, where one person was killed and four were wounded.
Part of the problem in solving those killings, police have said, was a lack of cooperation from witnesses.
That may soon change, Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference in Buffalo Police Headquarters to announce the results of Operation Street Sweeper last Wednesday and Thursday.
Richards took a shot at street thugs who brag about their code of silence, saying the accused criminals are having a change of attitude while in custody.
"They act like they are tough guys on the outside, but when they are facing serious charges, they are more than willing to talk," Richards said. He added that police also received anonymous information at the department's Tip Line, 847-2255, which assisted in the raids.
Derenda said crime-mapping also was used to plan the raids.
"We mapped out the sites of the recent shootings and homicides, went into the neighborhoods and after the drug dealers," the commissioner said. "Drug buys were made at every location where a warrant was executed."
Working with the police were special agents from the Buffalo office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which helped identify not only drug houses but individuals involved in the drug trade.
"This type of enforcement will continue. We talk to the police every single day, and I will tell you there is more to come in the next few weeks," said Dale M. Kasprzyk, head of DEA's local office.
The raids, Derenda pointed out, would not have been possible without the assistance of numerous SWAT teams and officers from suburban police departments, state police, federal marshals, sheriff's deputies from Erie and Niagara counties, and Erie County probation officers.
"In 2005, we did 100 search warrants for the whole year, and last week we executed 102 search warrants in two days," Derenda said.
Buffalo Police Investigative Services Capt. Michael J. McCarthy was given special credit for coordinating the massive operation.
In further making the case that street violence will not be tolerated, the mayor recapped recent actions, including the arrest last week of Kareem A. "Decatur" Howard, 23, on charges of illegally selling guns, and the Monday start of operations for the Police Department's newly formed Strike Force, which works in high-crime neighborhoods to root out entrenched criminal activity.
Strike Force, which includes state police and Erie County sheriff's deputies, replaced the department's Mobile Response Unit.
In Operation Street Sweeper, authorities seized handguns, rifles, shotguns and an AK-47; $24,000 in cash; and 6.5 ounces of crack cocaine, 20 grams of heroin and nearly four pounds of marijuana.
Among the bigger arrests were six people at 45 Goodyear Ave. and four more at 16 Kilhoffer St.
At the house on Goodyear, James L. Jones, Lashareese Stroud, Bethany A. Miles, Berten E. Garlic, Michael J. Ciszewski and Ricky Madlock were charged with criminal possession of controlled substances.
At Kilhoffer, Mario Pace, Derell A. Porter, George D. Williams and Terrin Hogan were charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana.