A task force of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies swept through the 700 block of 19th Street Thursday afternoon in what was characterized as a "new and ongoing operation" to target street-level crime and drug dealing.
The sweep netted six arrests on charges that ranged from violations to felony arrest warrants.
"It won't be the last time they see us," Falls Police Narcotics Intelligence Division Detective Capt. Bryan DalPorto said. "This is absolutely to send a message that if you want to deal drugs in Niagara Falls, we'll be coming to your house with a SWAT team."
Thursday's sweep involved the execution of search warrants on homes at 1017 and 1027 19th St. One veteran narcotics detective said he'd never seen "a block as bad as this one in my 19 years on the job."
Investigators noted that a window in a home between the two houses that were targeted in the search warrants featured a bullseye and the words "Don't Get Shot" drawn in the dust on the glass.
"We're trying to get back to cleaning up neighborhoods," DalPorto said. "These houses have been a constant source of drug dealing and street crime."
The task force is made up of detectives from the Falls Police, investigators with the New York State Police, as well as agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives and members of the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force.
Five of the six individuals who were taken into custody were located inside the home at 1027 19th St. None of the five lived at that address.
"They were using that house to deal drugs," DalPorto said. "It was like an open-air market for drug dealing."
Investigators said they found a bag full of bullets in the home, along with drug paraphernalia like scales and baggies.
Devante D. Gregory, 26, 449 17th St., was charged on a number of outstanding felony arrests warrants, as well as a single count of loitering. Demetrius J. Gregory, 30, 1224 Niagara St., Apt.. 2, was charged with loitering, seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
Booker E. Harris, 26, 956 Niagara Ave., Daqwon M. Jones, 21, 1745 Mackenna Ave. and Dedrick G. Williams, 39, 608 20th St., Apt. 2, were each charged with loitering.
Detectives said drug paraphernalia was also recovered inside 1017 19th St. and a man wanted on a felony county court indictment was standing in front of the residence when police arrived.
Paul J. Poole, 33, 167 80th St., was arrested on two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
"This is a new and ongoing investigation," DalPorto said. "And the operation will be conducted throughout the city."
City housing inspectors condemned the two houses for occupancy after the raids.
Falls Police Superintendent Tom Licata said it was time for police to return, in force, to a street that has had a long and troubled criminal past.
"It's been boiling over for awhile now," Licata said. "We're definitely going to be cracking down on 19th Street."