MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Police made more than 300 arrests and took dozens of weapons off Memphis streets during a recent operation designed to cut down on crime near schools, officials said Monday.
Police Director Larry Godwin said "Operation: Safe Campus" was started after a number of guns were found on campus at Memphis City Schools in January. Godwin said gangs, drugs and money are forming a circle of crime that is happening too close to many schools.
"We feel the guns entering the schools are obviously coming from the streets the houses and entering onto campus," he said.
During the five-week investigation, undercover officers targeted drug dealers and gang members who live and do business near schools. Some of the results of the operation were put on display during a joint news conference Monday afternoon.
"It shows you clearly and concretely the issues we've known that are in and around our schools and contiguous to our schools," Memphis City Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash said. "This is unacceptable."
According to police, 17 the weapons on display Monday were found inside three houses located less than a quarter of a mile from Mitchell High School. But at least one homeowner said his personal weapon was taken after police kicked in his door.
Godwin said police conducted the raid on Gilleas Street only after receiving legitimate tips that drugs were being sold to Mitchell High School students from the three houses.
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton commended those willing to voice their concerns.
"The citizens, particularly in the Mitchell High situation who stood up and spoke, we'll continue to work with MPD and MCS to make sure our children are safe," Wharton said.
While the first phase of "Operation Safe Campus" may be over, police say there's much more where these guns, drugs, and money came from.
Of the more than 300 arrests made during the operation, only one suspect was an actual student.
As a result of this nearly five week operation: On February 23, 2010 and March 2, 2010 Grand Jury indictments were handed down as a result of the undercover officer's investigation.
On February 23, 2010:
51 defendants were indicted and 1 Juvenile defendant was to be arrested.
The charges are Manufacture/Deliver/Sell of a Controlled Substance to wit: Crack Cocaine, Powder Cocaine, Ecstasy and Heroin.
Of the 52 suspects, 10 individuals are known gang members.
On March 2, 2010:
49 defendants were indicted and 3 Juveniles defendants were to be arrested.
The charges are Manufacture/Deliver/Sell of a Controlled Substance to wit: Crack Cocaine, Powder Cocaine and Heroin.
Of the 52 suspects, 5 individuals are known gang members.
The parallel investigation utilizing Organized Crime Unit plain clothes detectives resulted in additional arrests. Examples of those arrests are:
- On February 1, 2010 OCU detectives conducted a traffic stop at Knight Arnold and Ashwood, which is approximately 1/2 of a mile from Sheffield High School, and discovered 3.9 pounds of marijuana and nearly $3000 in the back seat of the vehicle. Jackie Arnold (Booking #10104061) was arrested for traffic charges and Possession of a controlled substance with intent to Manufacture/Deliver/Sell.
- On February 4, 2010 OCU detectives executed search warrants at 562, 566, and 572 Gilleas, which are less than 1/4 of a mile from Mitchell High School, after receiving information that persons in these residences were selling marijuana to Mitchell High School students. Detectives seized 17 weapons and 1.5 pounds of marijuana from these homes. No one was home when the warrants were executed but Adrian Turner (Booking #101046980) was arrested the next day and charged with Possession of controlled substance with intent to Manufacture/deliver/sell and being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun.
- On February 10, 2010 OCU detectives made a traffic stop in front of Hamilton High School (Person and Elvis Presley Blvd) and seized a loaded Ruger .40 caliber handgun (obliterated serial number) which was discovered in a backpack found in the vehicle. The passenger in the vehicle, Marquett Marr (Booking #10105254), was arrested for unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of an item with altered ID plate.
- On February 25, 2010 OCU detectives executed a search warrant at 287 Burwood, which is less than 1/2 of a mile from Fairley Elementary and Fairley High School, and seized 62.2 grams of crack cocaine, 2.60 grams of powder cocaine, 3.13 grams of marijuana and over $13,000. DeMeko Greene (Booking #10107482) was arrested for multiple counts of Possession of controlled substance with intent to Manufacture/deliver/sell.
- 105 Felony arrests were mad
- 199 Misdemeanor arrests were made
- Total of 304 arrests
- 16 Handguns
- 8 Rifles
- 9 Shotguns
- Over 67 grams of Crack Cocaine (2.39 ounces)
- Over 3,414 grams of marijuana (7.5 lbs)
- 56 Xanax pills
- 30 Hydrocodone pills
- 5 Ecstasy pills
- $22,735 in cash
- 14 vehicles
(Source: Memphis Police Department)