Cops close S. Side drug market

Chicago Sun-Times,  Jul 29, 2005  by Frank Main

When Chicago Police raided a building in the Ida B. Wells public housing complex Thursday, they found an illegal drug store complete with a makeshift counter fashioned from a metal shopping cart.

Forty-four members of the Gangster Disciples were arrested as a result of a six-month undercover investigation code-named "Operation Sin City." Arrest warrants were issued for another 19 suspects. The 63 suspects facing charges have a combined 813 arrests on their records and have been convicted a total of 126 times, police said.

The gang members allegedly sold up to $15,000 in drugs a day out of five of the South Side complex's mid-rise buildings, police said.

Police said the gang posted two "managers" at a time in the lobbies for security. Customers were directed up the stairwells to buy crack cocaine and heroin.

The investigation focused on drug sales inside buildings at 540 and 574 E. 36th as well as 575, 559 and 527 E. Browning.

Operation Sin City was launched in January in response to community complaints about violence in the complex. The gang had taken over drug sales from rivals, police said.

Police said they have shut down 30 drug markets in Chicago this year and have charged more than 385 suspects.