After a major crackdown recently on street gangs and illegal drugs, Sheriff Jesse Bane made his message to drug dealers and gang members clear during a press conference Thursday afternoon: "You are not welcome in Harford County."
The Harford County Sheriff's Office held the press conference regarding the recent gang and drug ring bust at the Southern Precinct, where Bane also thanked the law enforcement agencies responsible for breaking up a large gang and drug ring in Edgewood and Harford County.
Lt. Lee Dunbar of the Harford County Task Force headed the investigation that led to 21 arrests and the seizure of $680,000 in drugs.
Most importantly, the investigation has essentially shut down the operations of the World's Most Dangerous gang, operating mainly in Edgewood.
"We can't do it alone," he said, calling the investigation a "collaborative effort" with federal partners and Harford County municipalities.
Dunbar reiterated Bane's stern message: "We will be relentless in our pursuit of you and your organization."
The drug ring and the subsequent dismantling has had "a huge impact on the community here in Edgewood and Baltimore City and Atlanta, Ga.," Dunbar continued.
Maryland State's Attorney Joseph Cassilly said the Edgewood community should be glad "for the success here" as patrolling the streets and call-in tips contributed to the investigation. "We want to thank you, as well."
Cassilly acknowledged Sen. Nancy Jacobs, who was in attendance, for working with prosecutors years ago to "develop some of the first gang legislation." He also named the Edgewood Community Council and Harford County Councilman Dion Guthrie for being active in the community and encouraging residents to take pride in Edgewood and "go after these gang members."
Dunbar noted that there were "a lot of man hours" put into the investigation, but the cost was beneficial in that "we're taking dangerous felons off the street."
He added that the county is reimbursed partly through federal funds and the $118,000 in seized cash goes back into funding the task force.
In response to several questions from the media, Dunbar explained the wholesale distributor of drugs in this particular ring was in Atlanta, who would then bring the drugs to Baltimore and finally to Edgewood.
Members of WMD, he added, will most likely be "doing some serious time," as the majority of them have "violent criminal histories."
While everyone involved with the drug ring has been arrested or indicted at this point, Cassilly pointed out that cases are still pending with the federal government and U.S. Attorney's office.