Phoenix-area sites searched in drug investigation

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Department of Public Safety and Phoenix-area law enforcement agencies have conducted numerous raids following a months-long investigation into illegal drug sales by criminal street gangs.
The Phoenix Police Department said that participating agencies served search warrants on 16 locations in Phoenix and one in Avondale on Wednesday.

The raids resulted in the arrests of 28 men and women, but 15 people are still sought.
According to a police statement on the investigation dubbed "Operation Southland," the trafficking involved PCP, crack cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine in Phoenix and other parts of Arizona.

Authorities say the resurgence of PCP is especially concerning.

"It somehow enhances the strength of a person to where they can overpower two or three people or two or three officers," said Phoenix Police Sgt. Chas Clements with the South Mountain Precinct. "They get that, you could say, superhuman strength but it's dangerous at that point."

DPS Director Robert Halliday said the PCP is being manufactured in California.

"Operation Southland" began about five months ago in Pinal County with the ultimate goal of making neighborhoods safer.

"These type of operations have a strong effect in violent crime. They have a strong effect in our crime reduction efforts and will make our city safer," Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia said at a news conference Wednesday.

Agencies participating in the raids included the Phoenix police, the DPS, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and the Scottsdale, Mesa, Gilbert and Chandler police departments.