A metropolitan police task force targeting violent drug traffickers has been formed by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in hopes of reducing the violence associated with the narcotics trade.
The task force is a response to gunplay that has sent the homicide rate in Baltimore and other cities soaring and left people running for cover as drug rings battle over turf -- as in the case of the midafternoon spray of bullets at North and Pulaski streets Feb. 20 that left two reputed drug dealers dead and two apparent bystanders wounded.
Police say two gunmen -- one using an assault weapon -- were responsible for firing the more than 40 shots that, in addition to hitting four people, struck car windows, homes and a business at the busy intersection.
The attack was blamed on a "turf battle" between local and New York dealers for control of heroin trafficking in the West Baltimore neighborhood.
The new narcotics task force includes officers from the Baltimore and Baltimore County police departments, state troopers and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents.