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Seattle police arrest 20 suspected drug dealers on University Way

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Closing off an alley on University Way. (Photo: Seattle Police Dept.)

SEATTLE — The Seattle Police Department said Thursday it had arrested 20 suspected drug dealers on University Way following a three-month undercover operation.

Police said 24 drug dealers had been identified by undercover officers and witnesses. The remaining suspects are still being sought by officers, police said.

In June, police began investigating open-air drug dealing in the University District after residents and businesses in the community expressed concern about street dealing.

Police were able to quickly identify dealers, and undercover officers then made controlled purchases of a number of narcotics, police said.

During the case, police purchased methamphetamine 14 times, cocaine four times, heroin, pills and fake drugs on one occasion. Detectives also purchased marijuana 10 times from dealers, none of whom appear to have the proper licenses or permits to sell it in Washington state, police said.

Over a two-day period this week, police located, arrested, and booked 20 suspects into King County Jail for drug charges.  Eight of the suspects in the case have been arrested more than 25 times.

As part of the operation, Seattle police are working with community members and the Seattle Department of Transportation to make environmental improvements along University Way, including limiting access to alcoves and alleyways used by dealers to conduct transactions.