GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Several people suspected of being involved in a criminal subculture wreaking havoc in Gulfport are now behind bars. Police Chief Leonard Papania made good on his warning to criminals to, "Get right, get out of Gulfport, or go to jail."
Late Monday evening, the Gulfport Police Department, Harrison County Sheriff's Department, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Coastal Narcotics Enforcement Team, and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives raided around ten homes and a business and WLOX News was there as they went inside.
SWAT teams armed with assault rifles and bullet proof vests stormed into several homes when no one expect it, searched houses and made arrests.
"We have been talking about this criminal subculture and this is how you root it out," Chief Leonard Papania said.
Agents found cocaine, marijuana, guns, bullets, money, and other items believed to be used to commit crimes. One street in North Gulfport had three homes raided, another home was just feet away from a school.
"Selling dope right out of the front gate of a school," Papania said. "I talked to some kids right in that area, they were curious about what was going on. And we told them look we are trying to make summer a little more safe for you."
Another place raided was BB Convenience Store.
"The basis of the search warrant was for some illegal sales coming out of this store. A search will be made to see if there is any on the premises," Papania said. "Hopefully, the owners and operators of this will get themselves right. We don't need those kind of businesses in our city."
"The community expects to have a safe community and we get complaints from citizens of various communities in the city," Gulfport Police Commander Ken Brown said. "We take those complaints one by one, we address those, and that's where we are today."
Each arrest, police believe, helps reclaim streets that have been plagued with crime.
"Violent people don't commit violent crimes every day. But they lead a certain lifestyle and the nexus is going to be drugs. It's going to be drugs, and it's going to be guns, and it's going to be money. In order for us to affect and impact the violent individuals in our city, we have really got to hit it this way," Papania said.
And the chief warns he is not done yet.
"As long as I'm a nuisance to the bad guy they are going to be less of a nuisance to our citizens," Papania said. "The community meetings I continue to go to, everybody is asking for this. We get calls all the time, all these places we have been going to tonight, it's going to be no surprise to a lot of people. As far as where we are going in the future, the bad guy already knows what he's doing and he can anticipate a visit from us."