Off The Streets

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Oak Ridge (WVLT) More than a dozen alleged drug dealers are off the streets after a six month undercover operation by Oak Ridge Police that came to an end this weekend.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford has more on the growing drug problem in Oak Ridge.

They say this is the largest drug operation most of them can remember.

With the help of the Anderson County Sheriff's Department, they arrested 19 alleged crack cocaine dealers and seized five guns Saturday.

But one Oak Ridge resident says the drug problem there is so bad, and he hopes it will soon get better.

Joe VanDyke of Oak Ridge says, "the drug dealers know they're being watched and we're not going to stand for it in this neighborhood."

VanDyke says he sees drug deals go down right in front of his house all the time in the Woodland community.

"One guy stopped here six days in a row and I called six days in a row and they know who he is."

But VanDyke says these seasoned dealers are sometimes just too quick for Oak Ridge Police.

"It's hard to catch a, what would you call it, a ten second drug deal. It's hard to catch them."

Officers nabbed 19 of them all over Oak Ridge this weekend.

Capt. Alan Massengill, with the Oak Ridge Police Department says, "we were spread out if different parts of the city, so they kind of move around. They don't stay in one area."

VanDyke says it's a vicious cycle.

"They've been caught before. They've been in trouble before and they keep putting them in jail and they get back out again."

And he worries about the safety of his family and everyone else in the neighborhood.

"We've got all elderly people here, so they like to pick on that cause it's easy prey."

Tom Beehan, the Oak Ridge Mayor says, "it's a growing problem. It's a concern. I get calls from neighbors. You go to neighborhood watch meetings and you hear about this drug house in our neighborhood."

Beehan says the recent cocaine bust should speak volumes to all the drug dealers out there.

"It sends a message to the rest of them: Get out of town. We don't want you here."

Vandyke couldn't agree more.

"Just stay out of here. If you want to deal drugs, do them in your own driveway. Why you gotta come to our house?"

Captain Massengill says the police department will not back down, and there will definitely be more busts in the future, like the one this weekend.

They strongly encourage residents to call in and report any drug deals to police as soon as they see them.

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