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      JC residents leery after drug arrests

      Some residents in Jefferson City think a multi-tiered approach is needed to combat a citywide drug problem.

      Neighbors of some of the 18 people arrested for narcotics violations fear a wave of violence will follow the arrest of so many suspected drug dealers.

      "The more people that they get off, the bigger the power vacuum becomes," said Jefferson City resident Jeffrey Anderson. "The price of the stuff is going to go up, which means the guns are going to come out."

      The Jefferson City Police Department and the M.U.S.T.A.N.G. Drug Task Force arrested 18 people over a two week period in March. They seized heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, drug money and firearms.

      Police say 10 of the 18 arrests were of people suspected of distributing drugs, primarily heroin.

      Even with fewer suspected drug dealers on the streets, however, Detective Sergeant Shannon Jeffries of the M.U.S.T.A.N.G. Drug Task Force said his men face an uphill battle.

      "I don't think it will affect the community much, if at all," Jeffries said. "When you lock up one drug dealer, there's always another one willing to step up and take his place."

      Jefferson City resident Josh Woodruff said he knows five of the 18 people arrested. He said he had no idea his acquaintances were allegedly selling narcotics.

      "They're just normal people," Woodruff said. "I wouldn't have expected them to be doing it or anything like that. I didn't know they were doing it."

      Woodruff said the issue of drug use and distribution is an "invisible problem" in his neighborhood, that many people including himself are unaware of the true nature and scope of the problem.

      "I don't think there is an actual way to stop it," Woodruff said. "I mean, I wish there was a way to stop it but I don't think there will ever be an end to it all."

      "I think people will always do it for the money," Woodruff said.

      Many residents said they think additional employment opportunities would be more effective than arrests at combating the drug problem in Jefferson City.

      "If it was a little easier to get employment down here, it would definitely, definitely cut the drug arrests in half," Anderson said.