Forty people were arrested Monday morning in Ascension Parish on allegations that they participated in the sale of cocaine or other drugs.

Federal and local investigators were continuing to search for eight others alleged to have sold illegal drugs during a joint investigation that began in April.

“This is an (inter-agency) effort to get drug dealers off the streets,” U.S. Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux Jr. said at a news conference.

Cazayoux added that cocaine, crack cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and methamphetamine dealers were targeted. He said at least 2.2 pounds of powder cocaine was seized during the arrests.

Jimmy S. Fox III, special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s office in New Orleans, said the powder cocaine and other seized drugs had a combined wholesale value of $150,000.

“Clearly, the streets of Ascension Parish are safer today than they were last April,” Fox added.

Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson and Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said they asked for undercover help from the DEA’s Mobile Enforcement Team, or MET. Police officers and Sheriff’s deputies worked with DEA investigators to build cases against the 48 suspects.

“This is the most dangerous work you can do,” Wiley added.

“We dealt a major blow to the drug dealers we had in our communities,” Jackson said.

U.S. Marshal Kevin Harrison, whose deputies led pre-dawn forced entries into several houses, said no shots were fired during those arrests.

At least one assault rifle was among seven firearms seized, Harrison added.

Fox said people should remember that 80 percent of all criminal activity has its genesis in illegal drugs.

“It has a tremendous impact on the community,” Fox said.