Feds Point to Changes in Crime ‘Hotspot'

Federal prosecutors say officers have made more than 100 arrests in a high-crime “hotspot” in less than a year.

In the most recent numbers published October 5, the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Northern District of Texas said the Project Safe Neighborhoods Taskforce made 100 arrests in neighborhoods east of Highway 75 and along Interstate 635, mostly in Northeast Dallas.

Project Safe Neighborhoods launched in the Dallas Division in February to combat violent crime through extra local and federal law enforcement and community outreach.

Last month, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said it identified a convenience store on Whitehurst Drive as a driver of crime in the neighborhood. It didn’t bring charges against the owner, tenant, or sub-tenant who was running the business. But, the office said it brought the owner to the table to evict the sub-tenant.

Telena Pedford, who lives nearby, said she long suspected drug deals were happening in the parking lot.

“You have five or six guys standing around,” said Pedford. “Once you go into the store to buy soda or what-not, people stop you outside and ask if you want a bag.”

Pedford said she is hopeful the site will be cleaned up, but can’t say she feels safe at home eight months into the initiative.

“Law enforcement, keep working,” said Pedford. “We have a lot of work to do in this area.”

A representative for the owner of the store told NBC 5 the matter was in litigation and the owner couldn't comment.

The store closing marks a small change in a part of Dallas that includes Vickery Meadow, where a large number of refugees live.

Leonid Regheta who runs Project Start, a non-profit that works with refugees, saw his office burglarized three times in eight days over the summer.

The office, located in an apartment complex in Vickery Meadow, was ransacked. Supplies like sewing machines and bikes for refugees were taken.

“They never went to the people who really needed them,” said Regheta. “That was sad.”

Regheta said he attended community outreach meetings with Project Safe Neighborhoods and a prosecutor assured him an undercover officer would watch over the office.

The break-ins stopped, but Regheta said the work must continue to make the community safe.

“You can’t have the vacuum, you have to fill it with something else, better community programming, cultural events, Christian and faith events,” said Regheta. “I believe that it will take time because you build trust over time.”

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