20 Arrested On Drugs, Weapons Charges

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Twenty people were arrested on Tuesday and 20 more faced charges in connection with a four-year investigation into drug trafficking and firearms charges on the city's east side.

The investigation was known as Operation MTV Network because it centered around the Mount Vernon Avenue area, 10TV's Maureen Kocot reported.

In all 40 people were charged, but only 20 have been apprehended.

The charges were the result of a joint investigation by Columbus police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

During the investigation, more than 50 firearms, drugs including crack cocaine and marijuana, and more than $400,000 were seized.

Investigators said those charged were members of, or affiliated with, a street gang that operated in the Mount Vernon Avenue area, Kocot reported.

Rev. Melvin Steward created the Near East Side Community Resource Center in an effort to steer neighborhood children away from a life of crime.

His mission is to bring positive male role models to young people to keep them from making the same bad choices.

"I've never heard a doctor say I delivered a thug," Steward said. "I was glad they did the drug bust, it has to stop, but we have to make sure it doesn't start back. No one is born a drug dealer.  We allowed that to happen."

Many of those arrested face 30 years or more in prison if convicted.

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