Arrestees Include Alleged Members of Gangster Disciple Street Gang
A three-month Chicago Police Department undercover investigation of North of Howard drug activity resulted last week in the arrests of eight alleged members of the Gangster Disciples street gang and the issuance of warrants for five others.
Dubbed “Operation King Snapper,” the undercover investigation video and audio taped 19 undercover drug buys over a three-month period in a five-block area, between Paulina and Bosworth and Howard and Juneway. The recordings helped police build a conspiracy case against the gang. In addition to the arrests, police seized 50 grams of crack cocaine with an estimated street value of $6,150.
The drug market operated within a thousand feet of Gale Elementary school, enabling prosecutors to increase the charges brought against those arrested.
Police followed up the arrests with a “reverse sting” operation in the North of Howard area, targeting the buyers of narcotics.
The police have also saturated the area with additional officers in the coming days to prevent other drug dealers from filling the vacuum left by yesterday’s arrests.
The arrests come on the heels of a nine percent drop in both violent crime and property crime in the 24th District since the start of the year, according to Chicago Police Department statistics. While violent crime is down overall, the North of Howard area has witnessed several shootings in the last several months, many related to gang and drug activity. “With these arrests, we hopefully will see an even greater decrease in crime in the area,” said Alderman Joe Moore (49th Ward).
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 North of Howard community by removing many of hard core drug dealers from the street,” Moore said. “And the reverse sting operation will send a powerful message to the drug dealers’ customers that North of Howard is no longer a safe place to buy illegal drugs,” Moore added.
Moore noted that the video and audio surveillances enable prosecutors to bring drug conspiracy charges against those arrested and will result in longer mandatory sentences. “Ordinarily, an arrest for a sale of a small amount of illegal drugs results in little, if any, jail time,” Moore explained. “By making a case that those arrested were involved in a criminal enterprise, and that this criminal enterprise occurred within 1,000 feet of churches and schools, prosecutors will be able to bring charges that will result in mandatory jail time in the penitentiary for those convicted,” he noted.
The length of the jail sentence will depend on the criminal histories of those arrested. All arrestees had lengthy criminal records.
Moore joined 24th District Police Commander Bruce Rottner in thanking neighborhood residents for their involvement and encouraged their further participation in community policing efforts. “This is what community policing is all about, the police, community residents and community leaders all working together to make for a safer neighborhood,” Moore said.
Moore announced he would work with the 24th District police and local CAPS activists to organize local citizens to attend the court hearings and trials of those arrested to help ensure that the judges deliver the most severe criminal penalties possible.
“The Chicago Police Department simply does not have the resources to conduct nonstop undercover surveillances on in the North of Howard area at the expense of other areas of our neighborhood and city” Moore explained. “If we are to make North of Howard safe again, the responsibility ultimately lies with the members of the community.”
Moore called on all property and business owners to call the police whenever groups of thugs loiter in front of their property and, more importantly, sign complaints. “Courts have ruled that the police may not arrest people for loitering,” Moore noted.
“However, police may make arrests if a property or business owner signs a complaint alleging, for example, that access to their property or stores was blocked or that they were being harassed,” Moore explained.