SEATTLE (Reuters) - Police said they had arrested more than 90 people in a four-month crackdown on the flourishing drug market in downtown Seattle.
Dealers and other criminals had turned the area "into an open-air drug market and street corner swap meet," Seattle's Police Department said in a statement on Thursday.
The investigations were running alongside the city's "9 1/2 Block Strategy," to clean up the area by moving bus stops used for drug trades, restricting access to alleyways and moving newspaper boxes used to hide narcotics, the Seattle Times reported.
The police operation, aided by the FBI, had identified 186 people thought to be caught up in the downtown drugs trade, the police department said.
It added it hoped many of the suspects would end up on social programs providing housing, medical treatment and other services instead of in jail.
Members of the public contacted the police around 10,000 times in 2014, reporting drug dealing, brawls, shootings, stabbings and other crime in the downtown area, the statement added.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Writing by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Andrew Heavens)