Federal and state agencies bust street-level drug dealers

by: Mark Becker Updated:

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CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. —

Federal agents and police in Hickory and other cities in Catawba County arrested more than 20 people on drug and gun charges last week in the second round up of street-level drug dealers.

Agents began picking up suspects early Tuesday which is almost a year after they began the investigation.

Nineteen of those arrested face federal charges and nine others are facing state charges as a result of the undercover operation.

Agents say they seized 53 handguns, 19 rifles, 10 shotguns and one short-barrel shotgun. They also seized several pounds of drugs including cocaine and marijuana.

U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said that the arrests are part of her office's ongoing effort to fight drug trafficking and gun violence in the Western District of North Carolina that includes Charlotte.

Tompkins said they want to "put an end to the collateral violence that comes with drug and gun trafficking."

People living nearby say they weren't surprised it happened.

"Not at that house,  no.  We knew stuff was going on it's not the first time police have been there," says Neighbor Chris Sykes.

A magistrate judge refused to release all of the 19 suspects who appeared in federal court. They will stay in jail at least until their bond hearings, set for Friday morning.