EAST ORANGE, N.J. (AP / 1010 WINS) — Officials announced the arrests of more than 40 suspected gang members in Newark and East Orange after law enforcers carried out two simultaneous raids targeting the area’s drug trade.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Bob Laurino said the Bloods and Crips street gangs joined forces to create a stronghold on South Orange Avenue, peddling heroine, cocaine and marijuana while committing violent acts in the community.

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“There was a spike in crime on the East Orange north border. An environment had been created where residents living in the area were justifiably concerned about their safety,” Laurino said. “Drug activity, gang activity and so people do not feel safe going out on the street.”

Officials called the undercover raids “Operation Midway” and “Operation Borderline.”

Laurino said the investigation is ongoing and he expects more arrests, especially since multiple districts and agencies are working closely together.

Newark Police Director Gary McCarthy said law enforcement must continue to monitor the area closely if they want to succeed in preventing future gang activity.

“Taking out narcotics deals is one thing. Moving forward, holding onto the turf, not ceding the turf back to the criminals is another,” McCarthy said.

Sheriff Armando Fontora is confident that they’ll put a stop to the area’s gang problem.

“Our army is still much bigger than yours and you will not be successful,” Fontora said.

East Orange Police Director Jose Cordero said they will be using new technology, including smart sensors and high-tech virtual patrols, in the ongoing battle to keep the gangs off the streets.

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