Seattle’s perhaps most comprehensive push to clean up the open-air drug market that has long plagued downtown's retail core has resulted in more than 100 arrests since Wednesday, with many more expected, the Seattle Times reports. The arrests are part of the new “9½ Block Strategy,” a multipronged approach to combat and reduce street crime. Mayor Ed Murray, along with federal and local law-enforcement officials, announced the arrests after city, state and federal investigations into nearly 200 suspects. “Seattle residents and visitors should not be forced to navigate a dangerous open-air drug market,” Murray said.
The 9½-block area annually accounts for 10,000 calls for service in the downtown retail core. The entire city accounts for fewer than 900,000 calls each year. The arrests, dubbed “Operation Crosstown Traffic,” involved undercover officers who made 177 purchases of heroin, meth, marijuana, crack cocaine and other drugs from 186 street dealers. All of the transactions were caught on hidden cameras. “The successful operations this week underscore the value of collaborative enforcement efforts with our federal and regional partners,” said Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole. “We will continue our collective efforts to promote safe and healthy neighborhoods, downtown and throughout the city.”