Last Thursday police shuttered a Conservative Vice Lord drug market centered around the intersection of Lotus Avenue and Congress Parkway. Police made 13 arrests in the operation, dubbed “LoCo'” for Lotus and Congress.
It was the fifth open-air drug market Austin area police have closed this year.
Moncrief Ratliff, 30, was one of six people charged with Criminal Drug Conspiracy. Ratliff, who has six prior drug convictions, is currently back in reception at Stateville Correctional Center, as is Eugene Davenport, 23, who was charged with Delivery of a Controlled Substance.
Warrants were issued for two other individuals. Police are currently seeking Robert Smith, 18, also known as Kendre Davis, and Jamai Davis, 24. Four juveniles, three of them 14 or younger, were also charged, including one for Criminal Drug Conspiracy.
According to police, the open-air market, which took in as much as $2,500 a day, “resembled a sidewalk sale.” A police surveillance tape shows numerous individuals milling about on corners and near the mouth of an alley. As cars drive up, young men quickly approach, and make what appear to be furtive transactions taking no more than five seconds.
Undercover officers made 18 drug buys during the investigation. Thursday police seized $2,300 worth of heroin, $660 in crack cocaine, and $1,800 in cash.
The investigation began in March following a complaint by 29th Ward Alderman Isaac Carothers. In April, one of five new video surveillance cameras was installed near Van Buren and Lotus. That surveillance forced the drug activity into a nearby alley.
Chicago police have closed 22 drug markets and arrested 284 people in 2005.