17 charged in crackdown on gang

FBI, Chicago cops target drug markets on Southwest Side

Chicago Tribune
Published November 9, 2006

In what the FBI and Chicago police call a focused strike against the Satan Disciples street gang, authorities have filed drug and conspiracy charges against 17 members and associates of the gang.

One of those charged is de facto head of the gang in Chicago, according to the FBI, and court documents named another as a local chief.

 The operation was aimed at disrupting the sale of powder and crack cocaine on the Southwest Side, officials said.

"These are some of the worst offenders and biggest targets in the area," said Mitchell Marrone, an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI in Chicago and the leader of the bureau's anti-gang efforts. "They're dealing in quantities of drugs and also in violence."

Eleven of those charged were arrested Wednesday morning without incident, authorities said. Four others already were in custody on unrelated charges, and two remained at large. The group is expected to make a first appearance at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse on Thursday.

The case came together after intelligence from beat officers was developed by the Chicago FBI's Joint Task Force on Gangs, FBI officials said.

The investigation, dubbed Operation Burn Down, began in September 2004 and involved undercover work and electronic surveillance, authorities said.

The FBI identified Kenneth Gaytan, 45, known as "Biggy Rat," as the gang's Chicago chapter head who allegedly controlled drug operations around 18th Street and California Avenue, as well as 42nd Street and Campbell Avenue. Gaytan was charged with possessing more than 50 grams of cocaine with the intent to distribute it.

Erick Alvarez, 26, also known as "Diablo," the alleged chief of the gang's 42nd Street section, was charged with possessing with intent to distribute in excess of 500 grams of cocaine.

According to an FBI affidavit in the case, an informant provided information about Gaytan to agents who then targeted drug sales around Douglas Park. In March and April, cocaine was purchased from Gaytan in controlled buys, the affidavit states.

The Satan Disciples gang was founded in the city in the early 1960s, according to the FBI. The gang has more than 40 sections around Chicago and as far away as Florida, Texas and Oklahoma.