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Guns and drugs seized from local businesses in SWAT raid

CINCINNATI (Angela Ingram) -- What they were selling at a barber shop and the candy store next door was something far more sinister.

Police say the top sellers were actually drugs and guns.  Only Local 12 cameras were there when the SWAT team busted into two stores on Hamilton Avenue in Northside Thursday afternoon and came out with plenty of evidence.

Police made undercover buys of drugs like cocaine, crack and marijuana inside of these stores.  They also made undercover buys of firearms and they say those guns have been used in shootings and robberies.  Officials say the activities going on inside of the stores had a negative impact on the entire neighborhood.

The Cincinnati SWAT team prepared for the raid by learning specifics on two businesses and the potential suspects inside the crime scene.  Thursday afternoon they caught the people on Hamilton Avenue off guard as they burst into "Candy and More" and "Hair Options."

Police say the illegal gun and drug sales that happened at these stores are connected to violent crime in Northside.  The suspects who own the businesses are on the list for known gang activity.  Officers handcuffed and arrested several people and took guns from suspects and out of the stores.

The operation started last year after investigators learned of alleged food stamp fraud happening at the stores.  For the people of Northside, seeing the stores boarded up is being seen as a major victory.

At this point police have not released all of the names of the suspects.  They do say the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is involved in the investigation.  Officials anticipate at least some of the suspects will face federal charges.

Police are still looking for Vernon Warner in this case.  He's wanted for drug trafficking.  If you have information that can help police find Warner call Local 12's partners at Crime Stoppers at 352-3040.



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