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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say 17 people have been arrested on drug and gun charges under an initiative targeting an increase in violent crime in southeastern Montana that’s blamed on the drug methamphetamine.

The arrests were announced Monday by Federal and state prosecutors and local law enforcement in Billings.

U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme says all but three of the defendants have appeared in court on charges including robbery, drug trafficking and weapons violations.

Police say a 75 percent spike in violent crime in Billings since 2010 has been driven largely by the rising popularity of methamphetamines.

In March, state and federal prosecutors began working together to address the problem through a federal program known as Project Safe Neighborhoods.

Attorney General Tim Fox says criminal enforcement efforts must be paired with treatment for addicts.