Chicago police have arrested nearly 50 people in connection with a gang and violence suppression initiative in the Harrison (11th) police district, according to a statement released Monday by the Chicago Police Department’s Office of News Affairs.
Police say that the arrests resulted in important information into the recent rash of heroin overdoses that occurred in the city earlier this month. More than 70 people across the city were treated for heroin overdoses within the span of three days over the Oct. 3 weekend. Many of those overdoses were reported on the West Side.
In the wake of the outbreak, CPD recovered samples of heroin that had been laced with fentanyl, a toxic painkiller used in surgical procedures.
Not long after the outbreaks, CPD and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officers arrested Alfonzo Sylvester, 24, and Mario Wofford, 26. Both were suspected of selling heroin to an undercover officer at the intersection of Congress and Independence Blvd.
On Oct. 19, police arrested 48 people out of 60 identified offenders within the boundariles of Madison St. and Roosevelt Rd. to Kedzie Ave. The arrests were part of a more comprehensive gang and violence suppression mission initiated by CPD’s narcotics division. Police say 15 of those arrested Monday had connections to the department’s investigation into the fentanyl-laced heroin overdoses.
In addition to seizing three weapons and an undisclosed amount of narcotics, the police were also able to gather leads related to several shootings and homicides that have happened in the area, according to CPD’s statement.
“More than 60 percent of the targets in the violence suppression mission are convicted felons, with a number of them having criminal histories involving weapons-related convictions,” noted Anthony Riccio, the chief of the department’s organized crime bureau, in Monday’s statement.
“By initiating this antiviolence strategy […] we have sent a clear message that under no circumstances will we allow violence criminal street gangs to engage in criminal activity that threatens the safety and quality of life in our communities,” Riccio said.
Since Monday’s arrests, police say the area in which they occurred “has been saturated with a uniformed police presence.”