'Operation Happy Holidays' leads to arrest of 31 suspected drug dealers

SEATTLE -- Westlake Park and the 3rd Avenue corridor downtown is all dressed up for the holidays and thanks to Operation Happy Holidays, more welcoming than ever before.

"It's a good thing because people do illegal stuff on the streets,” downtown worker Demeiko Parker said.

People doing illegal stuff on the streets of downtown is what led to the three-month multi-agency undercover operation.

"Seattle Police Department, narcotics unit, anti-crime team, gang unit, along with units from the Sheriff's Office and Metro Transit Police,” Seattle Police Department spokesman, Jeff Kappel said.

All are working together to bring down as many high-level, gang-affiliated drug dealers as possible.

Forty suspects were identified during the operation.  Now, 31 of them are behind bars.

"We were able to document and observe numerous hand to hand drug deals of crack cocaine, powder cocaine, pills and marijuana. We didn't go after addicts or low level dealers, we were going specifically after drug dealers who were also suspected gang members and potentially violent criminals,” Kappel said.

"I'm always conscious of who's around me and that I have my bag zipped and who is talking to me just to make sure I'm always making myself as safe as possible,” downtown worker  Jessica McDowell said.

Police say no one downtown should feel that way.

The problem of drugs and gangs has plagued the downtown core for a long time.

There have been calls for action and Happy Holidays is just that.

Police say the worst of the worst were arrested.

"Seventeen of our suspects had three felony convictions, four of them had nine felony convictions, one of them had 12 prior felony convictions so we're talking some pretty hardcore criminals,” Kappel said.

"I think it's really important for the city.  I think we have a bad reputation compared to some other major cities and I would like to see it get cleaned up,” McDowell said.

Police say they expect to make more arrests and continue to turn up the heat on the bad guys.

Good news for those who live, work and play downtown.