Twenty-three people, including three juveniles, were arrested last night as officers swept through drug-free zones in three police districts.
Those arrested were charged with possession of narcotics or loitering in a drug-free zone with intent to traffic in narcotics, said Sgt. J.C. Smith, who heads the narcotics squad in the Southwestern District.
The other districts were the Western and the Southern.
Smith said the police sweeps were prompted by numerous resident complaints of alleged drug activity in the zones that have signs posted warning that any one frequenting the area for the purpose of dealing in narcotics will be arrested.
He said seven of the arrests were for possession of cocaine and the rest were for loitering with intent to traffic in narcotics.
Smith said many of those arrested had been warned earlier to stay out of the respective areas.
During the action, police seized at least 125 vials of suspected cocaine with an estimated street value of $1,300 to more than $3,000, Smith said. Also seized was a .22-caliber Saturday Night Special.
Smith said that about 30 uniformed and plainclothes officers met at the Southwestern District about 8 p.m. before fanning out in drug-free zones in each of the three districts.
He said the arrests were made without incident and took place in the vicinity of Pratt and Monroe streets; along South Pulaski Street; the 1800 block of W. Pratt St.; the 1800 to 2200 blocks of Edmondson Ave.; and the first block of S. Payson St.
Three men were arrested when police spotted a drug deal at Poplar Grove Street and Riggs Avenue, which is not a drug-free zone.
"Some of our men were driving by the area and saw the drug deal in progress," said Smith.
Smith said that several men, whom police had arrested in the past on drug charges, were in the areas of the sweeps and were warned not to cross over into the drug-free zones.
"We looked at people real close while talking to them and arrested anyone who we had warned earlier to stay out of the zones," he said.
Smith said the three juveniles, all 16, were released in the custody of their parents.
Of the 20 adults, 16 were held overnight at Southwestern and two each at the other districts, he said. Their ages ranged from 18 to 26.
The adults were to appear at bail hearings today before District Court commissioners, Smith said.
He said police intend to keep the pressure on drug dealers and abusers to prevent them from entering the zones, some of which are near schools.