- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

DETROIT (AP) - Police arrested 12 people and seized drugs, handguns, assault rifles and a submachine gun during a series of raids Tuesday aimed at curbing heroin sales in the Detroit area.

Local officers and federal agents served 13 search warrants Tuesday morning along a stretch of the Woodward Avenue corridor that heads north from Detroit into Oakland County.

Authorities said syringes and other drug paraphernalia were being sold in plain paper bags inside a gas station.

“This operation was launched in response to an increase in the sale of heroin, which has impacted Detroit and Oakland County,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig told reporters.

Craig described the operation as a “large-scale distribution of heroin controlled by a violent, Detroit-based criminal organization,” and that the raids came in response to a number of complaints in the area.

“The majority of violence that has occurred in this particular area, we know, is connected to narcotics activity,” he said. “So it is fitting that we will attack the source of the problem.”

Officers recovered heroin, cocaine and marijuana, arrested 12 people and issued seven citations. Five handguns also were seized, along with a submachine gun and three AK-47s, Craig said.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, state police, Oakland County sheriff’s department, and police in Ferndale and Royal Oak took part in the raids.

“Even though these locations were inside the parameters of Detroit, many of the customers - the vast majority - were coming from suburban communities,” said Oakland County sheriff’s Major Robert Smith. “So ultimately the drugs were coming back into our suburban communities, being redistributed and used. And that leads to crime.”

The gas station along the Detroit city limits and Oakland County yielded about 150 pieces of drug paraphernalia. The “setup” bags included syringes and cigarette lighters used to heat and turn heroin and cocaine into liquids for injection. The bags sell for $5.

“It’s kind of brazen when you sell paraphernalia right in a location that’s supposed to be a neighborhood gas station,” Craig said.

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