Pubdate: Fri, 22 Feb 2002
Source: The Post and Courier (SC)
Copyright: 2002 Evening Post Publishing Co
Author: Glenn Smith


Charleston police say a sting operation Wednesday which targeted drug 
buyers along Spring Street is part of a broad effort aimed at curtailing 
both the supply and demand for narcotics on the peninsula.

Six people were arrested in a 90-minute period for allegedly trying to buy 
marijuana and cocaine from an undercover police officer, authorities said.

The sting came one week after Operation Dragnet, a police sweep aimed at 
street-level drug dealers. Police arrested 24 people in that sweep and have 
warrants for 13 more.

"After we did Operation Dragnet, we still saw a lot of people coming into 
the area looking to buy drugs," said Lt. Richard Vance, commander of the 
police narcotics unit. "We realized that if they were looking, someone 
would step up to the plate and take the other dealers' place. What we 
decided to do was remove the buyers from the area and try to deter other 
buyers from coming in."

Drug buyers can expect to see similar operations throughout the city in the 
coming weeks and months, Vance said.

Narcotics officers set up along Spring Street a little after 4 p.m. and 
made their first arrest about 20 minutes later. Neither daylight nor the 
heavy traffic along the thoroughfare seemed to deter people from 
approaching the undercover officer for drugs, Vance said. Nearby officers 
made audio and video recordings of the transactions, he said. Several area 
residents were supportive of the police effort, and some even steered 
buyers toward the undercover officer, Vance said.

None of those arrested Wednesday live in the Spring Street area, and only 
two live on the peninsula. They range in age from 27 to 50, with 
occupations ranging from a restaurant worker to a computer consultant and a 
licensed Charleston tour guide.

"We get a cross-section from all walks of life," Vance said. "And a lot of 
the problems downtown are not from the people who live in the area."

Arrested were (names deleted).
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