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Authorities to prosecute 154, seize guns in Connecticut sweep

(Reuters) - Law enforcement authorities expect to prosecute 154 people as part of an undercover operation that seized illegal drugs and scores of guns in two Connecticut cities, a federal agency said.

State, local and federal officers took part in the crackdown on violent crime in Bridgeport and New Haven dubbed "Operation Samson" by the lead agency, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

The sweep began in March and 80 people are expected to be prosecuted on federal charges and 74 on state offenses, the statement said.

Seventy-three firearms were confiscated, including sawed-off shotguns, sawed-off rifles and a silencer. Officers seized crack cocaine, powder cocaine, heroin, marijuana and about 400 prescription narcotic pills, the statement said.

New Haven and Bridgeport were targeted because of their high rates of violent crime. There have been similar sweeps in New Orleans; Philadelphia; Oakland, California; Flint, Michigan; Chicago; Stockton, California; St. Louis; and Camden, New Jersey.

Police carried out about 425 operations, including undercover meetings, controlled purchases of firearms and narcotics, and search and arrest warrants, the statement said.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Bill Trott)