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22 indicted in drug investigation

Twenty-two people have been indicted on charges of dealing crack and committing firearms offenses at Tampa's Central Park Housing Village, the U.S. Attorney's Office has announced.

The charges were the result of a 10-month operation by federal and state officials between November 1996 and August 1997. Most of the 22 have been charged with distributing more than 5 grams of crack _ acts that if proven can bring prison terms between five and 40 years. Two of those charged had previously been convicted of the armed robbery of undercover police officers who were posing as drug buyers.

The Central Park public housing complex has been designated as a Tampa "Weed & Seed" area, making it eligible for federal funding for increased law enforcement and enhanced social services.

Some of the defendants made initial appearances before a U.S. magistrate judge Wednesday and Thursday.

Officials who participated were from the U.S. Attorney's Office; the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; the Tampa Police Department; and the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco.