More than 40 people have been arrested in the Charlotte area on gun and drug charges in a Project Safe Neighborhoods operation, a joint task force announced Tuesday afternoon.
"The takeaway is Charlotte is safer today because of the work, because of the partnership, because of the collaboration" Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said.
CMPD and the ATF said 44 people face charges as the result of the 8-month-long investigation. Guns, bullet resistance vests, and multiple drugs were seized, the U.S. Attorney's office said. Many of those arrested for drugs face trafficking charges, officials said Tuesday.
"What I tell you is very troubling with the fact that people have bullet resistance vests is you see they're ready for combat, they're ready to engage our officers and our agents in a way that they want to be prepared for a gun fight," Chief Putney said. "These are not low level first offenders. These are people who are hardened and people who are preying on our most vulnerable."
"Gun violence and drug fueled crime chip away at the foundation of our community," First Assistant U.S. Attorney Dana Washington said. "The collateral damage of drug trafficking where drugs and guns are in the community we see time and time again it leads to homicides, robberies, assaults, and unfortunately all of those in our community end up being impacted."
Some of those arrested will face federal charges and some will face state charges.
The operation is part of violent crime reduction initiative with Project Safe Neighborhood to get illegal guns and career criminals off the streets.
ATF agents say 56 individuals have been indicted in this investigation.
"They have been arrested over 1100 times. They have 270 convictions and they have over 100 tours in prison," said ATF Special Agent in Charge Wayne Dixie. "There were four murder manslaughter convictions, 23 robbery convictions, 17 federal convictions, 19 federal firearms convictions, seven assault with deadly weapons convictions, 13 habitual felon convictions, one kidnapping conviction, one sex crime and 129 narcotic convictions."
"As long as people are committing crimes, we're going to continue to lock them up and hold them accountable," Chief Kerr Putney.
Putney said they are still actively looking for a few suspects. "This is still an ongoing investigation and those numbers could continue to grow," Putney said of the arrests.