MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Mobile Police Department’s Narcotics and Vice Unit undertook a three-month operation dubbed ‘Operation Camp Cleanout’ in the Campground and Bottoms neighborhoods.
It targeted street-level drug dealers and users. The SWAT team assisted in search warrants along with the Street Enforcement Team.
SEARCHING FOR DRUGS
“Always, for me and for the guys is safety. You also highly weigh out the risk to the general public,” Narcotics Capt. Johnathan Lee said. “There’s a lot of good people that live out here, right? You’re not trying to broad-brush everything.”
Much of the area, Lee said, had been the focal point of similar operations in the past.
“We’re searching the area for any drugs. Sometimes they’ll have it on them, but a lot of times, they may have it dangling in a tree. They may have it in a grill. It may be in a gas tank near a vehicle that they’re in,” Lee said.
He said months of surveillance and undercover work had to be done to ensure officer safety and a successful bust.
“You really won’t ever see us working. I mean, we’ll make controlled buys and you’ve got no clue that a buy was made,” Lee said.
Notable seizures during the operation include:
- 82 grams of powder cocaine
- Crack cocaine
- 40 grams of marijuana
- 1 gram of Xanax
- 1 gram of Oxycodone
- 5 firearms
In a crime just as formidable, the Narcotics team shifted their focus to local prostitution to wrap up the operation.
“Oftentimes, drugs and prostitution go hand in hand,” Lee said. “The street-level drugs are also usually street-level prostitution.”
Two of the prostitution busts occurred on a sidewalk in front of an elementary school, just six hours before students were expected to arrive for classes.
“Could users be considered victims? In some ways, prostitutes can be considered that,” Lee said, “I have interviewed a ton of prostitutes, and they’ve all got different stories.”
THE ‘BROKEN WINDOW’ THEORY
The operation concluded with a trash and blight pickup in the area.
Lee referenced the ‘Broken Window Theory,’ stating that a neighborhood in disarray doesn’t boost the morale of the residents. He said that the cleanliness of a neighborhood could have a direct impact on crime rates and trends.
The operations concluded with:
- Search Warrants Executed: 10
- Total People Arrested: 33
- Total Charges: 60
- Guns Recovered: 5
“Once we leave a neighborhood, we would love for members within the neighborhood, if they have not developed a community action group, to maybe develop a community action group,” Lee said.
“And really have that neighborhood come together and continue the momentum that this operation has done. [That] would be the ultimate goal here.”