Police Act After Neighbors Complain of “Open Air” Drug Market
Chicago Police working with community leaders and residents scored another major victory in the fight against crime last week when they dismantled an open-air drug market in Rogers Park and forced two longstanding problem apartment buildings into the City of Chicago’ s Drug and Gang House program.
Eight alleged gang members were taken into custody, and warrants were issued for two others.
Dubbed “Operation Heartbreak Ridge,” the Police Department initiated the undercover investigation in September after community leaders and residents reported increased narcotics activity on the 2000 blocks of Howard and Birchwood and the 7400 and 7500 blocks of Hoyne and Ridge. The drug market area was controlled by members of the Black P Stones and Gangster Disciples street gangs.
Police used surveillance cameras and made undercover drug purchases to identify the primary offenders and build a drug conspiracy case against them.
The alleged gang ringleaders were arrested at 7514 N. Hoyne and 7650 N. Sheridan. Both buildings have been sites of suspected drug and gang activity, and the arrests will subject the buildings to the City’s Gang and Drug House Task Force. The task force will conduct extensive building inspections of the properties, and will be able to require building owners to evict problem tenants, engage in criminal background checks of prospective tenants and provide building security enhancements.
As part of Operation Heartbreak Ridge, police seized more than $37,000 in crack cocaine, $200 in Ecstasy and $1,800 in cash. Police also seized two 9 mm semi-automatic pistols. Five of the ten targets in the investigation were charged with criminal drug conspiracy. If convicted, they will serve mandatory jail time in the state penitentiary.
Police followed up last week’s arrests with a “reverse sting” operation in the Howard, Birchwood and Hoyne area. Undercover officers targeted those attempting to purchase drugs in the area and confiscated automobiles driven by the customers.
Police also saturated the area with additional officers to prevent other drug dealers from filling the vacuum left by last week’s arrests.
Alderman Joe Moore praised the work of the undercover officers and the 24th District Police who provided invaluable back-up assistance. “The work of these brave officers has made a significant dent in the drug trade in the Howard, Birchwood and Hoyne Avenue area by removing many of hard core drug dealers from the street,” Moore said.
Moore also praised neighborhood residents who brought the alleged criminal activity to his attention and the attention of the Police Department. “Last week’s arrests demonstrate that community policing works,” he said. “I’ll continue to work closely with the block club and other neighborhood residents to make sure our neighborhood continues to improve,” Moore added.