- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Law enforcement officials in New Orleans are calling it “Operation Wild Wild East.”

A joint federal, state and local police operation that targeted violent drug offenders in eastern New Orleans has resulted in 111 arrests, authorities said Friday during a news conference at U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite’s office.

Officials said the operation was launched in July in reaction to a spike in violent crime in eastern New Orleans. It resulted in the seizure of numerous guns, drugs, vehicles and jewelry with a total value of more than $1 million.

Drug Enforcement Administration agent Raymond Brown said the operation targeted repeat offenders.

“More than 60 percent of them were felons,” Brown said. “We arrested murderers. We arrested attempted murderers. We arrested people who have been convicted of selling drugs two, three, four times.”

Agencies involved included the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, New Orleans police and the New Orleans District Attorney’s office, along with Louisiana probation and parole officials.

Authorities hailed the operation as the latest example of collaborative efforts among multiple law enforcement agencies to stem violent drug- and gang-related crime that has been a persistent problem in New Orleans, sometimes overshadowing the city’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

Friday’s announcement at the federal prosecutor’s office came a day after a state district court jury in New Orleans convicted three men in the gang-related 2012 second-degree murders of 5-year-old Briana Allen and 33-year-old Shawanna Pierce, both of whom were hit by gunfire meant for others. Federal authorities aided in that investigation.

New Orleans’ District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, whose office prosecuted the Allen murder case, was among those standing with Polite at Friday’s news conference, pledging the cooperative efforts will continue.

“This is not the last such initiative that you will see,” said Polite.

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