Feds offer alleged drug dealers a second chance

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This isn't quite Hamsterdam, as made popular by HBO's "The Wire," but it's an alternative approach to a recurring problem.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office offered a second chance to 14 suspected heroin drug dealers as part of an effort to clean up Atlanta's drug strife English Avenue neighborhood.

The aim is to connect the group to community members and services that can help rehabilitate them instead of throwing them in jail, which is part of a larger operation that led to dozens of arrests earlier this month.
In a letter sent to 19 alleged offenders, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner and Acting United States Attorney John Horn  wrote, "You have been identified as a heroin dealer after an extensive undercover investigation that the Atlanta Police Department, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have been conducting over the past few months." The letter continued, "Street-level drug sales and violence have to stop in the English Avenue neighborhood. We are giving you one chance to hear our message before we are forced to take action against you."
Fourteen of the suspected drug dealers showed up at the meeting at the Lindsay Street Baptist Church Tuesday night.
"I was very reassured and incredibly encouraged by the number of people who showed up," Horn said.
Horn said the arrests of heroin dealers with long arrest records June 11 at the end of a joint federal-state-local investigation marked phase one of a plan called a Drug Market Intervention or DMI.
"It's essentially about 50 people who are causing the majority of the problems," Horn said.
"We know that some will  re-offend, and when they do they will find themselves in federal prison," said Carl Walker, the special agent in charge with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
"My auntie is here. She is supporting me. They didn't call nobody to some back room and lock people up. I appreciate the love, I appreciate the second chance," said one of the invitees who didn't want to be identified.