Mecklenburg County DA Andrew Murray, CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe and U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins (L to R). Photo: Julie Rose An early morning police operation Monday led to nine arrests of people charged with selling drugs and guns and committing armed robbery. CMPD says the suspects are not part of a coordinated crime ring, but DO share one thing in common: they're all up to no good at hotels clustered around the Sugar Creek exit of I-85. That's a major gateway to the city and a long-running trouble spot for CMPD says Lieutenant Ken Schul. "Usually it's somebody that's renting a room or they're renting a room for a buddy that's selling drugs out of there or they're selling in the parking lot," says Schul. "A lot of the issue is ownership of the hotels tend to turn a blind eye because they're making money (renting the rooms)." Schul says none of the nine people arrested were hotel owners. One of the people picked up in the sweep- but not yet charged with a crime - is a former CMPD officer who retired in 1993. Schul says the arrests are the culmination of five months of undercover work in the troublesome Sugar Creek hotel corridor and another sweep will likely happen in the next week. Local and federal law enforcement agencies are cooperating in the effort, says U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins. Seven of those arrested face federal drug, gun and robbery charges. As a result of this morning's operation, "18 firearms were taken off the street, including an UZI assault rifle," says Tompkins. "A bullet-proof vest was seized, 1.3 kilos of cocaine and over 100 grams of crack cocaine were seized." The operation has also inspired a new arrangement between local and federal prosecutors. The Mecklenburg County District Attorney has assigned a prosecutor to work full-time in the U.S. Attorney's office identifying repeat offenders who would get tougher penalties if tried in the federal system.