GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY - A major bust by Greenville Police had its sights set on one neighborhood above all others.
In a crackdown which has resulted in 53 arrests, they say about 20% of the accused are from the River Bluff area alone. "It stays hot," said River Bluff resident Mikendra Hayes about the neighborhood. "It stays police coming through here on a daily basis."
For Hayes, as well as many other residents, the arrests are a welcomed relief. They say it was difficult to tell who was and wasn't a potential criminal. "It can be right next door. It can be the person you're smiling getting along with," said Hayes.
Not everyone is happy about the arrests. "The cops come and arrested my son," said William Glisson. "I think it was a setup and it completely sucks."
"The police are intentionally targeting river bluff," said resident Monique Peele. "I don't believe that everybody they locked up is doing what they say they're doing."
Greenville Police aren't slowing down, saying 21 suspects are still at large. They expect to make more arrests in coming days.
Greenville police have identified 74 suspects in connection with guns and/or drugs.
Police say over a nine-month investigation, they identified the suspects, 14 of which were gang members or violent offenders. 11 of the conspirators sold illegal firearms/narcotics to police during the investigation.
Beginning on Monday, 53 of the 74 suspects were arrested. Police say the majority of the suspects either live in Greenville, or frequent the area daily.
"If you engage in this type of activity in the city of Greenville you can expect to soon have your picture in one of our press conferences, as our operations are ongoing and relentless," said Greenville Police Chief Hassan Aden.
Police say they seized 27 illegal firearms during the investigation.
They also seized 157.7 grams of marijuana, 129.56 grams of crack-cocaine, 20.8 grams of powdered cocaine, 15.9 grams of MDMA (ecstasy), 20.2 grams of Valium, 7.5 grams of Percocet and 1.39 grams of Oxycontin.
Police say members of the Bloods and Folk Nation gangs were arrested.
At last check, the remaining 21 suspects were still on the loose.