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By Terry Dean
Chicago Police have foiled a major illegal drug operation in Austin, resulting in multiple arrests and the confiscation of cash and narcotics.
The lengthy investigation led to the capture of "multiple targets" and the recovery of quantities of money and drugs, according to a Dec. 20 Chicago Police news release.
"It also illustrates the community's commitment to put these criminals out of business," said Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
The three-month investigation was led by the Chicago Police Narcotics Division. The unit initiated an investigation into narcotics activity in the 15th District in Austin, occurring along Cicero Avenue to Laramie and Huron to Division Street.
Police recovered quantities of crack cocaine, cannabis and heroin in the investigation, with an estimated street value of more than $85,000, as well as money associated with the drug sales.
The narcotics activity in the area was controlled by the Conservative Vice Lords street gang, according to police.
Eighteen of 22 identified "targets" were arrested, with 10 of those suspects already felons with extensive criminal backgrounds, including arrests for aggravated battery, homicide and other violent offenses. The offenders arrested face various charges, police say, including delivery of a controlled substance.
"Chicago Police conducted numerous controlled narcotics purchases during the course of the investigation, with several of the targets identified via surveillance and other investigative methods," McCarthy said. "The majority of the identified targets are documented gang members.
Police say recent incidents of violence which have impacted the neighborhood are attributed to the gang and narcotics activity in the area. Police also attribute the successful investigation to "vigilant residents" providing information regarding that open-air drug market.
Chicago Police are continuing to gather information in the ongoing investigation.