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Buying Drugs in Camden? Smile, You're Getting Photographed

Camden city and county authorities are using license plate readers to track drug buyers, especially those that come into Camden specifically to buy street narcotics.

Buying Drugs in Camden? Smile, You're Getting Photographed

Camden County and city officials have a message for drug buyers: stay out of Camden. And now they have increased technology behind their efforts to slow street narcotics sales.

Police are using surveillance cameras to identify and track cars used by drug buyers, in a move announced by Camden County Prosecutor Warren W. Faulk, Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson and Camden Mayor Dana Redd.

Authorities will contact car owners to inform them that their automobiles were identified at the scene of a drug buy.

“The owners won’t be charged, but they will receive letters warning them that in the future police will be on the lookout for these cars in the city, and will take action if circumstances warrant,” the county prosecutor’s office said in a release. “That action could extend to seizing the vehicle, if police see its driver engaging in further illegal activity.”

The license plates will be programmed into a license plate reader, a device in all city police cruiser that can read tags. The readers can be programmed to alert officers if cars identified in previous drug buys return to the city.

While Camden is the site of drug buys—including a well-known open air drug dealing spot at 6th and York—authorities said it’s often county suburban residents who come into the city seeking narcotics. The 6th and York location, for example, is a popular spot to purchase heroin.

The intersection of 6th and York drew the city police department’s attention due to the extraordinary volume of open air drug dealing taking place there at almost every hour of the day. The area is also easily accessible to suburban residents. Typically buyers come to the area to purchase heroin.

“The open-air drug market is the single greatest contributor to violence, criminal activity and the diminishment of our residents' quality of life in Camden, and it is being funded by every person who swings through the city to buy illegal drugs,” Chief Thomson said. “While we aggressively target the dealers themselves, it’s imperative the police department take steps necessary to disrupt the customers who keep fueling the problem.”

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