Forty-five people are in jail and a few are still at large as law enforcement officials wrap up an 8-month investigation into drug trafficking and illegal guns in Charlotte, officials announced Tuesday.
Arrests began at 6 a.m. Monday and continued through Tuesday, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Dana Washington said.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department worked together to make the arrests through their joint Violent Crime Task Force, said Wayne Dixie, ATF’s special agent in charge for the Charlotte field division.
Dixie said many of the people arrested have lengthy criminal histories, and 13 of them will now face drug and gun charges in federal court. The rest are being charged locally.
Drugs, guns and bulletproof vests were confiscated during the operation, officials said. CMPD Chief Kerr Putney called the vests “troubling.”
“You see they’re ready for combat,” Putney said. “They’re ready to engage our officers and our agents in way that – they want to be prepared for a gun fight.
“These are not, again, low-level first-time offenders. These are people who are hardened, people who will prey on our most vulnerable.”
The guns seized were mostly handguns, Putney said, and the drugs included heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and Ecstasy.
Putney refused to discuss where exactly the arrests took place, saying that the whole region is safer now.
The Violent Crime Task Force isn’t new – it began in the 1980s – but Putney said its work got fresh energy when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Charlotte to talk about violent crime in December.
Authorities are still looking for two people who will face federal charges and fewer than 10 people overall, officials said.
Carlos Massey, 34, and Ishmerai Hem Ef Muhammad El, 37, are wanted on federal charges. Call 1-800-ATF-GUNS with information.