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Charlotte Area News

Police Arrest 15 As Part Of 'Operation Heartbreak Hotels'

Tasnim Shamma

 Federal and local law enforcement officers have been working to cut down on the number of drug transactions taking place at hotels along the I-85 and Sugar Creek corridor. After a four-month investigation, police arrested fifteen people this morning and charged them with possession of drugs and firearms. 

It was déjà vu for the Sugar Creek neighborhood. In February of 2012, CMPD arrested nine people on drug, gun and robbery charges. Crime went down briefly says U.S. attorney Anne Tompkins.  

"But as of late, crime in the corridor, including drug crimes, armed robberies and prostitution had been on the rise again and this impacts the good people who live and work in this area," Tompkins says. 

Around six a.m. this morning, police and federal agents arrested 15 people. Seven face federal criminal charges for possession of crack cocaine or firearms. 

Credit Tasnim Shamma
The Department of Justice says 15 people were arrested on Wednesday morning. Seven defendants were arrested on federal criminal charges, eight defendants on state criminal charges, five individuals who were arrested on state charges were charged with federal offenses and police are still looking for three individuals related to this operation with federal arrest warrants.

CMPD Captain Robert Dance says a four-month investigation called Operation Heartbreak Hotels found that drug dealers would rent out hotel rooms for weeks at a time to sell their drugs.

"Our goal is not to get a specific number of hotels to shut down, our goal is for those hotels that aren't complying with the rules and restrictions that we have in place, to shut those down," Dance says. 

As part of the investigation, police seized 10 firearms, several of them stolen. Police are still trying to arrest three others as part of their bust.