Hauling out the trash, the 107th way
By Senior Airman Peter Dean, 107th Airlift Wing
/ Published April 14, 2009
Niagara Falls, NY -- In the early morning hours of March 12, five New York Air National Guard's 107th Airlift Wing members along with more than 400 fellow law enforcement officers suited up, armed up and psyched up. Their mission to give a wakeup call to a heinous gang called the Bloods, a call the bloods would soon not forget.
In what resembled a small army, the officers mounted their vehicles which included everything from squad cars, SWAT trucks and helicopter support. Rolling out of the gate, the sheer size of this operation was apparent.
"This is quite an impressive operation, in my many years of narcotics work, I have never seen anything as impressive as this," said John Chella, Chief, Niagara Falls Police Department. "I want to thank the 107th for allowing us to be at such an appropriate location, out of the way, secure and ready to deploy, he added.
After a yearlong investigation and much preparation, law enforcement officials from more than 10 different Western New York agencies gathered at the 107th high bay hangar for what would be this year's largest local drug raid. After officers and agents received the latest updates on their targets, they divided up into their appropriate teams that included entry, arrest and transport elements. No matter the officer's role, it was critical to the success of the operation that they all performed their job flawlessly.
Armed with 26 arrest indictments and 15 search warrants, law enforcement officials targeted a national gang called the "Bloods." According to John Chella, the "Bloods" is a New York City based gang that has gained strength over the years. The "bloods" traffic and sell drugs and weapons, their sole purpose is to commit crimes for financial gain.
Most aspects of the operation known as "Niagara Blood Clot" had participation from 107th members. Outside the gates of the 107th, many members work within the community for local and state law enforcement agencies. Command Chief Richard King in his other life has participated in more than 300 raids as a Niagara Falls SWAT Team member.
"Nothing's routine," said Command Chief King. "You always have to be aware of your surroundings," he added.
Teams simultaneously stormed 15 suspected local drug houses. Still dazed and confused from the front door being knocked off its hinges from a battering ram followed by a deafening blast from a stun grenade the perpetrators were swarmed, cuffed and taken into and custody. According to investigators which included 107th member Master Sgt. Shawn Larrabee the raid resulted in more than 20 arrests. The raid also netted several weapons such as sawed off shot guns and rifles. Additionally large amounts of crack and cocaine are no longer on the streets.
"It was a huge success," said Sgt. Larrabee. "We got a lot of bad guys and weapons of the street," he added.
"I'm confident as a result of these arrests those (violent crime) numbers will go down," said Chella.
The streets are a little safer for now, but the war on drugs and drug related crimes is a battle that can't be won, only managed.