Niagara Gazette — When neighbors in the 1600 block of Michigan Avenue heard the pounding of a police battering ram and shouts of “Down on the ground” early Monday morning, they suspected it was a long-awaited wake up call for William “Willie” Johnson.
They were right.
“I’m not surprised,” one neighbor said, moments after a Falls Police SWAT team broke down the door to Johnson’s first floor apartment. “They have too much traffic over there. You notice all the people coming and going.”
City narcotics cops say Johnson ran a brisk drug dealing business out of the flat he shared with his mother, his girlfriend and their 4-month-old child. After searching the apartment, investigators found traces of cocaine on a digital scale, some pot and some prescription pills.
As Johnson emerged from his home in handcuffs, he scowled and harped at waiting reporters and photographers.
“Pictures? Video? You all got the wrong man,” Johnson moaned. “This is crazy.”
His neighbors felt differently.
“(Johnson’s drug dealing) has been going on a long time,” said neighbor Mary Jo Niziol. “He has people coming in vans and trucks all the time. It’s obvious people are coming for drugs and it’s time someone did something about it.”
Falls Police said that was what a series of raids Monday, dubbed Operation Spring Clean Up, was intended to do - Clean up some of the street level dealers that have plagued Cataract City neighborhoods.
“These houses were active drug houses and nuisances to the community,” Falls Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto said. “The purpose (of the raids) was to send a clear message that Niagara Falls is not the place to do drugs.”
Niziol said the Michigan Avenue block where Johnson was dealing is home to a large number of children. She said kids should not be exposed to that.