8 arrested during ATF raid in SW Philadelphia


Chopper 6 HD was over the scene at 61st and Passyunk during the raid. Agents with the ATF could be seen handcuffing people and searching vehicles.

Court documents say the eight suspects had been planning to rob $50,000 worth of cocaine from a drug dealer.

They met at the location to pile into a rental van. However, ATF agents were watching their every move and listening in on wiretaps.

In fact, one the wiretap, authorities say the alleged ring leader, Robert Whitfield, is heard boasting that he's been robbing drug dealers for 10 years.

Authorities initially expected just four men to show up, but got more than they bargained for.

"We had an enforcement operation here involving armed robbery suspects. We've taken eight suspects into custody," said Sam Rabadi of the ATF.

When police moved in on the suspects, several of them resisted and officers shot out the windows of two of the suspect's cars.

Sources say the suspects all have lengthy criminal records and they had been keeping tabs on them for some time.

They say this takedown headed off what could have been a deadly outburst of violence.

Action News has learned this takedown is part of a national initiative targeting crime hotspots with a surge of police and federal agents.

Philadelphia is one of three cities where the surge is underway. The others are New Orleans and Oakland.

The defendants are being held without bail after an initial appearance in federal court.

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