- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

BALTIMORE (AP) - A flood of drugs on the streets after dozens of pharmacies were looted during riots in April has contributed to a surge in violence in Baltimore, the police commissioner said Wednesday.

Anthony Batts said at a news conference that 27 pharmacies were looted or robbed during riots following the April 19 death of Freddie Gray, a man injured in police custody. Six officers are charged in his death.

“There are enough drugs on the streets of Baltimore to keep (residents) high for a year,” he said, adding that so many drugs on the streets have thrown the city off balance.

He said the drugs are fueling turf wars as gangs and other factions vie for customers.

The commissioner said he is asking for more federal agents and federal prosecutors to join in fighting the violence that has rocked the city.

There were at least 43 homicides in May in Baltimore, the most in a month since the early 1970s.

“These are not numbers,” Batts said. “These are people - human beings who lost their lives in the streets of Baltimore.”

The department is devoting “every single resource, every single body” to combatting the violence, Batts said. He said the warrant task force arrested 83 people last week and dozens of handguns have been taken off the streets.

Fighting the violence is “a lengthy, but focused process,” Batts said.

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