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In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-1420Thursday
Or contact your local HUD officeMay 15, 1997


WASHINGTON -- Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced that as many as 52 individuals were arrested in Butler County, Ohio, this morning as part of the Department's and Butler County's Operation Safe Home, an intense federal effort to get tough on crime and drugs in public and assisted housing developments.

This morning's actions, carried out after months of undercover investigation, represent the second phase of a stepped up effort to rid Butler County's Metropolitan Housing Authority of illegal drugs, violent criminals and drug dealers.

"We're putting an end to the illegal activities of drug dealers who terrorize public housing developments, and beginning the process of building safe communities," said Cuomo. "The only taxpayer-funded housing that drug dealers are entitled to is a prison cell -- and Operation Safe Home will put them there."

Today's joint operation was carried out by the Hamilton Police Department and HUD Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigators assigned to the Cleveland and Columbus offices. Assisting in the action were the Butler County Prosecutor's Office, Union Township Police Department, Warren County Drug Task Force, New Miami Police Department, and food stamp investigators with the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

"Today's action is the result of the long-term commitment we've made to the Hamilton Police Department and residents of the Butler Metropolitan Housing Authority," said HUD Inspector General Susan Gaffney. "We plan to maintain the presence we established in the area last year and will continue our efforts to make this community safe for every family who calls it home."

The 52 individuals face 182 charges, including 75 counts for trafficking in cocaine; 19 counts for trafficking in a counterfeit controlled substance; three counts for trafficking in drug pharmaceuticals; one count for trafficking in marijuana; two counts for permitting drug abuse; 79 counts for drug abuse; and three counts for trafficking in food stamps.

During phase one of the Butler County operation, which concluded February 2, 1996, 103 people in the cities of Hamilton and Middletown were arrested on 271 counts, including aggravated trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in controlled counterfeit substances, robbery, theft, drug abuse, and trafficking in prescription medication. Twenty-nine of the 103 were juveniles.

Post-enforcement actions, which are funded through a HUD Drug Elimination Grant to the Butler Metropolitan Housing Authority, call for off-duty Hamilton Police officers to patrol the development on foot and create several special youth programs.

"HUD Inspector General Susan Gaffney has a long-term strategy for keeping this community drug free and safe for all who live there," said Cuomo.

Operation Safe Home was established in February 1994 by HUD's OIG, in consultation with the Secretary of HUD and the U.S. Attorney General, to attack and reduce violent crime in public housing.

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