Eighty three gang members were arrested Wednesday in the roundup.
The FBI confirms the Traveling Vice Lords are the main targets of the investigation. Agents are conducting searches at addresses from Chicago's West Side to Bensenville, Warrenville, Oak Park and Bellwood.
The investigation started about two and a half years ago and involved secret wiretaps placed on the phones of gang leaders.
As members of the street gang sold drugs on the West Side, FBI agents and Chicago police officers were building a case that they hope will cripple one of Chicago's biggest and best known gangs. They joined forces targeting 104 alleged members and associates of the Traveling Vice Lords street gang. Eighty three are now in custody and face charges they bought, sold or managed a massive drug operation that put heroin and cocaine on the streets. Customers came from as far away as Elgin to buy the drugs.
"They made anywhere between 5 and $10,000 a day in pure profit off their drug trafficking," said Tom Troutman, FBI Organized Crime Unit.
By some accounts, there are more than 3,000 members and associates of the Traveling Vice Lords in Chicago.
"We're still in the process of looking for and apprehending some of the defendants," FBI Special Agent Ross Rice told ABC 7.
The Traveling Vice Lords are one of Chicago's largest street gangs and currently control territory on the city's West Side. One of its members was originally suspected of murdering off-duty Chicago Police Officer Robert Soto and his friend Kathryn Romberg in 2008. It was shortly thereafter that law enforcement began video surveillance and wiretaps on the gang's operations. Neither the FBI nor Cook State's Attorney will say whether Wednesday's arrests signify progress in finding the officer's killer, but there is hope they will make North Lawndale safer.
"Violent crime and homicides usually drop anywhere from 40 to 100-percent in the community after we do one of these takedowns," said Troutman. "It can last six months to to a year."
The suspects were processed at FBI headquarters.
Sources say Wednesday morning's series of arrests are not connected to a meeting held over the summer between gang members and law enforcement in which gang leaders were told they could be held legally responsible for crimes committed by their members.
The suspects appeared in court Wednesday afternoon on federal charges, although criminal complaints against those arrested have not yet been unsealed.
State charges, including for murder cases, could be announced later.
Below is a list of the federal defendants (with best known ages, and all reside in Chicago unless noted otherwise) provided by the U.S. Department of Justice:
Jason Austin "J Rock", 28
Charles Austin "Bubba", 32
Milton Riley Milt, 36, Bensenville
Emanuel Young "Miko", 32
Danielle Duncan, 28
Avery Irby "Pete", 35
Kevin Terry, Jr. "Little Kurt", 21
Jeffrey Scott "Scotty", 24
Kenneth Terry "Terry", 37
Juanica Blassingame, 48
Charles Ward "Charlie", 63
Robert Ewing, 59
Antoine Jones "Black", 31
Kevin Terry Sr., "Captain Kurt" / "Kurt", 46
Lionel Brown, "June" / "Shorty", 29
Derrick Lewis, "Colby" / "D.C.", 45
Vernon Chapman "C-Dog", 31
Corey Griffin"Fat Rat", unknown
Edmund Forrest "Furb", 28
Timothy Allison "Shaw", 30
Calvin Williams "Boski", 22
Kenny Bell "KB", 30
Steven Collins, 28
Stephen Britton "Choo", 25
Christopher Bonds "Big Bro" / "Foo Nuts", 20
Kevin White "Big White", 48, Oak Park
Jalal Spearman "Jay" / "J", 33, Bellwood
Maurize Cossom "Big Lord", 26
Tommy Berry, 33, Bellwood
Sharona Crawford "Macaroni" / "Roni", 39
Dion Thomas, 30