South Side crime raids net 68 people in massive sweep

Chicago Police carried out raids targeting organized crime across the South Side on Thursday, resulting in 68 arrests.

The people arrested in the raid are all on the list of the more than 1,300 documented gang members and associates that Chicago Police say are responsible for the majority of violence in Chicago, and the individuals most likely to be a victim or suspect in gun violence.

"We're focused on reducing gun violence," said Interim Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.

The mission, ordered by Supt. Johnson, was intended to combat crime and violence in the Englewood, Chicago Lawn and Deering police districts, according to a statement from Chicago Police.

“Enforcement missions, such as this one, will be part of an ongoing initiative to help further reduce the ability of gangs to inflict harm in Chicago’s neighborhoods,” Johnson said in the statement.

Police executed 35 narcotics-related search warrants Thursday and overnight into Friday morning, according to police News Affairs. The searches resulted in 64 arrests, 50 for felonies and 14 for misdemeanors.

Three of the felony arrests were for unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, police said. Four guns were recovered. Four people were also arrested for prostitution as a result of the operation.

"I think it's wonderful, they should do more. We don't have enough cops drive by here," said resident Virginia Sapp.

This targeted offensive was in response to an increase in gun violence in the 7th, 8th and 9th's Police Districts.

"My message is clear, if you're involved in gang activity, we're going to do everything we can to put you back on the right track in terms of your lifestyle. If you choose not to do it, then the full weight of the Chicago Police Department will be coming after you," Supt. Johnson said.

As police beef up anti-violence initiatives, in the 9th District they are investigating a tip that gang members on one block are trying to acquire high powered weapons to use against police. On Friday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel reinforced the superintendent's message to gang members.

"We know who the individuals are who are creating the preponderance of violence, we know where you live, we know what you look like, and we're putting you on notice," Emanuel said.

Licensed establishments believed to support or allow gang activity or drug sales on their premises were also targeted for inspections by the department’s Vice Division, police said. Investigators checked 21 businesses, resulting in 13 citations for ordinance violations and the recovery of 358 packs of untaxed cigarettes.

Investigators also checked 21 bars, one of which was cited for serving alcohol to a minor, according to police.