A phalanx of law enforcement officials Wednesday touted their latest drug-trafficking case, against 16 suspects they said were “terrorizing” Miami-Dade’s minority neighborhoods.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer, flanked by top federal agents and Miami’s police chief, said the crackdown was the fruit of a year-old partnership between law enforcement and community leaders to help rid neighborhoods of violent criminals.
“The violent criminals terrorizing these neighborhoods better watch out,” Ferrer said during a news conference at the U.S. attorney’s office.
“Sooner or later we are going to clean up your neighborhoods and get rid of the drug traffickers,” Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa promised.
The partnership was launched in October 2011 to focus on drug dealing, gun violence and other major crimes in Miami’s Overtown and Liberty City areas. Miami Gardens was also added to the list of troubled communities.
Ferrer said he has assigned a prosecutor to each of the communities. Each one works with both criminal investigators and community leaders to target pockets plagued by career criminals.
The latest indictment, brought by federal prosecutor Roy Altman, took aim at a network that allegedly distributed heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana. The organization was headed by Chuck Wayne Boyd, 36, of Miami Gardens, authorities said.
Timothy Donovan, assistant special agent in charge of the Miami FBI, said the investigation started two years ago as a result of territorial gang wars and shootings in the Overtown and Liberty City areas.
He said the takedown by 100 law enforcement officers and agents began at dawn Wednesday, leading to the arrest of 13 of the 16 defendants. He said three of the defendants were still at large.
Donovan said the investigation, dubbed “Operation Meltdown,” struck a “serious blow” to Boyd’s alleged distribution network.
Ferrer, the U.S. attorney, said his goal is to build better bridges with community leaders to prevent the criminals from taking over their neighborhoods.
“Every neighborhood has different problems,” he said. “It is really us learning from them and building a trusting relationship.”