MIAMI (CBSMiami) – What began as an investigation into one drug trafficker, led to a wide operation involving federal wiretaps that brought down a large drug and weapons trafficking network that focused on Liberty City.
And that's just one of five busts announced by numerous federal and local law enforcement leaders Thursday.
"This is only used for one thing. And that's to hurt our kids, to hurt our businesses, to hurt our community," said ATF special agent in charge Carlos Canino, while he held an assault rifle in the air.
Federal agents showcased a small cache of illegal guns, seized during an anti-crime initiative bringing the feds together with local law enforcement.
Some of those weapons were pieced together from others so they would be untraceable. They also got ahold of other dangerous items that were for sale.
"Grenades, explosives and ammunition that could unfortunately actually pierce a bullet proof vest. And tragically, and unfortunately, that ammunition is known as cop killer bullets," said U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer.
Ferrer announced the indictment of 55 men and women, accused of taking part in crack and heroin trafficking, and dealing firearms.
"We used a lot of investigative tools. These hard working law enforcement partners used wiretaps, surveillance, search warrants and undercover operations in order to capture and dismantle these extensive distribution networks."
The largest bust broke up a crack network in Liberty City. Police say drug crimes are contributing to the violent shootings seen across Miami-Dade County, in some cases, ending the lives of children and teens.
"All of these arrests all these guns signify a grandmother somewhere isn't going to have to lock herself in her bedroom tonight," said newly named Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez.
Community Activist Tangela Sears is grateful the federal agents, attorneys got involved, along with all the extra resources that go with them.
She told CBS4's Natalia Zea, "I'm happy today to see that they're involved and they're getting to the root of the problem and getting to the dealers and suppliers and getting these guns off the street."
Of the 55 indicted, 17 are still on the run.
If you recognize any of the people, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS.
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