Loudoun County authorities last week charged nine people with drug offenses after a three-month undercover investigation focusing on Leesburg's northeast neighborhoods.

The investigation, known as Operation Safe Sidewalks, was conducted in July, August and September mainly by Leesburg police and resulted in 13 indictments being handed up by a special grand jury that met Dec. 14.

Lt. Cathy Polen, a spokeswoman for the Leesburg Police Department, said Operation Safe Sidewalks involved extra uniformed officers patrolling residential neighborhoods and drug purchases by undercover officers.

Polen said the investigation focused on the northeast because it is the town's highest crime area.

She said the number of uniformed officers also was increased in the area because "we wanted . . . to be more visible there."

The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, Loudoun County Commonwealth Attorney's Office, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Alexandria Police Department assisted in the investigation.

Sandra Douglas, 35, and Paul Sims, 40, both of Leesburg, each have been charged with distribution of crack cocaine. Marcus Simms, 27, of Leesburg, was charged with larceny. John Wilson, 52, and Roland Thompson, 21, both of Leesburg, each have been charged with distribution of cocaine. Bernard Beale, 37, and Kenneth Tracy, 36, both of Purcellville, each were charged with two counts of distribution of crack cocaine. Clarence Reid, 40, was charged with three counts of distribution of crack cocaine.

A 17-year-old Leesburg youth, whom police did not identify because he is a juvenile, was charged with distribution of an imitation controlled substance.