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Miami Gardens pre-dawn gun bust ends with 97 arrests

Federal agents fanned out across Miami Gardens before dawn Wednesday to arrest 97 people on guns and drug trafficking charges during Operation Smoking Gun III.

The agents served 16 search warrants and targeted suspects named in state and federal arrest warrants.

Among the fire power confiscated: 248 firearms including a sawed off shotgun and also five bullet-proof vests. Drugs were also rounded up: cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and thousands of Oxycodone, Percocet and morphine pills.

“As a result of this long-term concerted effort, 97 dangerous individuals, the vast majority of whom are previously convicted felons, their guns and their drugs, have been removed from the streets,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle said the round-up should help cut down on crime: “Guns plus drugs always equal violence and death,” she said.

Charges against the many of those arrested include possession of a firearm by convicted felons, carrying a concealed firearm and selling a controlled substance.

One individual was charged with selling 15 guns in a span of three months, including an assault rifle and a shotgun. He could face life in prison, if convicted.

Some of those arrested are believed to be gang members, officials said.

At a news conference, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert said the city is responding to citizens’ complaints about criminal activity in the city; he issued a warning to those dealing in guns and drugs.

“If we didn’t get you today we’ll get you. We’ll get you because we won’t stop trying,” he said.

Two previous efforts — Operation Smoking Gun I and II — focused on suspects in Broward and Palm Beach in 2010 and 2011, resulting in more than 200 federal charges.