WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The illegal drug trade is active and becoming increasingly violent, that’s the warning from area law enforcement and prosecutors.

Investigators said the battle against the illegal drug trade is a 24/7 operation, and while at times it may seem as though nothing is being done about drug dealing in our neighborhoods, it’s a battle they say that is always intense, and dangerous

The message is loud and clear, “closed for business.” Pittston City Police post signs like this on houses that were allegedly the center of drug activity.

“It’s putting everybody on notice that the Pittston City Police Department is not going to stand for that type of activity in our town,” said Kyle Shumosic, Chief of the Pittston Police Department.

Shumosic told the I-team that drug dealers are becoming increasingly violent.

“We have a specialized unit that is used to effect these warrants on the houses due to the fact there’s often homes where these drugs there’s guns, violent individuals, they’re gang-related individuals that are associated with this type of crime,” Chief Shumosic explained.

Pittston Mayor Mike Lombardo said he’s not naive when it comes to the aggressiveness of drug dealing operations.

“Every successful raid we make the next one is waiting to happen, we cognizant of that. Our department does a great job. I also like to say that we have great cooperation from surrounding municipalities,” said Mayor Lombardo.

Wilkes-Barre Police Chief Joe Coffay has been fighting in the drug war for more than three decades. He said drug dealers can provide any drug that is in high demand on the street or any drug that they can turn into cash, lots of cash.

“Predominantly the main drug used was predominantly heroin for the longest time. Now we are starting to see a lot of fentanyl. Even traditional drugs like cocaine and marijuana have been mixed with fentanyl. Fentanyl has been a major drug problem which has led to many of our overdoses in the area,” Coffay explained.

Officials admitted that often times people don’t think about it or are not concerned unless it impacts their daily lives or comes to their neighborhoods. They said reducing the demand for these drugs on the street is a major goal in that drug war.

“Yeah, these investigations they start out with information. Lots of times it’s information from the public, they provide information. We take that information investigate it and develop a case from there, unfortunately for us, it often it takes time,” said Coffay.

Luzerne County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said the drug dealing operations are becoming increasingly violent.

“We are seeing a little bit of, I guess, the competitive nature of the drug trade. The violence among the different groups trying to establish their territory or turf, as the task force officers call it, often resulting in violence in the form of usually gunfire,” said Sanguedolce.

“Treatment does actually work,” said Jason Harlen.

Harlen is the CEO of the Wyoming Valley Drug and Alcohol Services. He said treatment and counseling are major factors in the battle against drug dealing operations by reducing demand.

“Obviously you have to put your mind to it. There’s a lot that you have to do but there are a lot of services out there. You see a lot of people come through these doors every day and they are successful,” Harlen explained.

Harlen said a big factor in the equation is the person’s family.

“It’s extra frustrating for family members, you know they are part of the issue that a person with substance problem as well. This is something that creates a ripple effect. Absolutely it’s a major problem,” Harlen told Eyewitness News.

We will take a closer look at that aspect of the drug war coming up on Eyewitness News at 6.