Police bust local drug market (NEW BPSN FACTION)
Suspected gang members arrested in drug conspiracy
Chicago and Evanston Police broke up an open-air drug market in the 24th district and arrested 13 suspected gang members last weekend, the Chicago Police Department announced in a press conference Wednesday.
The arrests signify the end of an extensive undercover collaboration called "Operation Triple Threat," which began on March 1. Although the CPD has shutdown 17 similar markets in Chicago this year, the operation stands as its first joint effort with Evanston Police.
In addition to those in custody, police have warrants for the arrests of six other suspects who remain at-large as of Wednesday afternoon, said EPD Deputy Chief Joseph Bellino.
All suspects were members of the Insane Black Mafia Street Gang and were alleged to have openly sold drugs on the streets of Evanston and northern Chicago, according to the press release issued at the conference.
Over the course of the investigation, undercover officers successfully bought $4,215 in crack cocaine in 23 successful buys. In the second phase of the operation, officers attained street credibility and established connections with mid-level contacts who supplied street dealers.
CPD began the investigation in Rogers Park, which borders Evanston at Howard Street. Chicago Police partnered with EPD after intelligence showed that the drug distribution extended into Evanston, Bellino said.
Issued felony charges include criminal drug conspiracy and delivery of a controlled substance. Because the suspects are linked to the same conspiracy, all 19 will appear in court at the same time.
"(Criminal drug conspiracy) is a better way of demonstrating that several people put their minds together," Bellino said.
The group of suspects included both genders and was diverse in age, ranging from a juvenile aged 15 to 57-year-old Eddie Gibson.
One suspect, Chicago resident Lindon Watts, 17, has been charged with a gang-related shooting that occurred early Friday morning on top of criminal drug conspiracy, Bellino said.
Watts allegedly shot another 17-year-old male at approximately 3:15 a.m. just yards away from the Evanston Police Outpost at 633 Howard St.
Police believe Watts may have shot the victim for talking to police about recent gang-related activity, Bellino said.
Police located the victim after a patrol sergeant in the area heard gunshots, he said.
The victim was rushed to St. Francis Hospital, 355 Ridge Ave., where he underwent emergency surgery for three gunshot wounds, according to Bellino. The victim has since been removed from the intensive care unit, but remains hospitalized.
Police interviewed the victim on Friday afternoon, Bellino said, when the victim identified Watts as the perpetrator.
The Cook County State's Attorney's Office approved five criminal felony charges related to Watts' violent use of the firearm, Bellino said. Skokie and Evanston police apprehended him in Skokie early Saturday morning.
Watts, of 7350 Damon St., is being held in Cook County Jail. A judge set bail at $500,000 for crimes related to the shooting with an additional $150,000 for the criminal drug conspiracy charge. He is set to stand trial on June 26.