Police bust yields drugs, weapons, 25 arrests

July 22, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Many of the 25 individuals were arrested Wednesday and Tuesday night after they were caught in undercover stings for allegedly trying sell guns illegally and also trying to obtain more than 5 kilograms of cocaine by ripping off a suspected drug house.

That suspected drug house turned out to be a fictitious one set up by members of the FBI's Joint Task Force on Gangs and by officers from the Chicago Police Department to get the suspects to reveal their own stashes of guns and drugs.

Authorities say the investigation also included undercover agents and cooperating witnesses.

Thursday morning, authorities displayed the majority of the 65 weapons confiscated by investigators, including three AK-47s, a .50-caliber magnum handgun and several sawed-off shotguns. The weapons were all either purchased for as little as $300 or confiscated during the first of several undercover stings.

"It gives you an idea of the level of trafficking of weapons. It's not just an Illinois issue. It's not just a Chicago issue, not just a U.S. issue. It's an international issue," said Special Agent in Charge of Chicago FBI Robert Grant.

The investigation began roughly around April 2009, primarily targeting illegal weapons. It is believed most of the suspects were taken into custody at a suburban forest preserve earlier in the week, realizing too late that it was all a trick to get them to reveal their own cache of illegal guns and drugs.

Two other suspects were arrested in Indiana and Wisconsin and were being returned to Chicago.

The 25 people arrested now face various drug and weapons charges. Of the 25, four men allegedly conspired to rip off the drug stash house. In the complaint, one of the defendants allegedly told an undercover officer his violent plan.

"'We shoot people for free. You think we're going to shoot people for bricks, you know what I'm saying. We're going to shoot you two times more for some bricks,' referring to cocaine," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. So, obviously, we want to attack the problem of people possessing guns."

"The weapons seizures and the arrests that have been made in this operation are very significant when you consider the carnage that could have been unleashed," said Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

With recent violence targeting Chicago police officers, authorities say the collective effort by the state and federal officials is a shift and shows the focus now to pursue aggressively the sale of illegal guns and the gang bangers who traffic and use them.

"There was an increasing trend over the years of police officers being involved as victims of battery. Based on our analysis between 2007 and 2009, the number of reported incidents of battery against police officers in the city of Chicago increased approximately 19 percent," Grant said.

" If you look back in two months, we have had three police officers murdered. That's unacceptable. One was killed in a parking lot of a police facility. Our guys had gone through a lot," Chicago Police Department Supt. Jody Weis said.

Authorities say three individuals involved in the investigation did manage to elude capture, which has triggered a nationwide manhunt for them.

The Cook County state's attorney says the individuals arrested will face state charges, as well.

According to authorities, the investigation and arrests resulted from efforts to target one well known street gang that has its base on Chicago's Southwest Side and is involved in both drugs and illegal gun sales.

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