CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that Chicago police shut down two open-air drug markets operated by street gangs on the city’s far north and southeast sides.
Police arrested 12 people and are seeking five more connected to a drug market on Bryn Mawr Avenue between Broadway Avenue and Sheridan Road. According to a news release, police seized crack cocaine and three vehicles after a three-month investigation. On the southeast side, a two-month investigation culminated in eight arrests and eight more suspects being sought, associated with a drug market near the intersection of East 85th Street and South Commercial Ave.
Emanuel said the “takedowns” were the latest result of the city’s "wrap-around strategy," started in May, which integrates CPD’s gang violence reduction strategy with community services. Police have made 1,492 arrests since the wrap-around approach was announced.
“We are working each and every day to remove guns, gangs and drugs from our city’s streets, as these are the main drivers behind shootings and murders,” Emanuel said in a news release.
After a violent summer that grabbed national headlines, Emanuel has been under pressure to do something about a 25 percent spike in homicides this year. Competition among street gang was the source of many of those murders, with the Chicago Tribune reporting that affiliates of the city’s largest gang, the Gangster Disciples, made up more than a quarter of those killed through Sept. 25.
Earlier this year, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy instituted “gang audits” to centralize information about gang membership from the police department’s beats and districts. McCarthy has previously said street gangs have been breaking up into competing factions, and that has contributed to this year’s high homicide rate. The department’s audit identified more than 600 gang factions throughout the city.
In July, CPD put in place its gang violence reduction strategy, meant to prevent retaliatory killings and reduce crime in neighborhoods where gang violence is prevalent. The investigations leading to the 20 arrests announced Thursday were the result of community concerns about criminal activity. The mayor's office said there have been 30 instances of successful cooperation between police and city services since the wrap-around strategy was announced in May.