Federal agents made a major breakthrough in tackling gang-related drug- and gun-trafficking operations in Chicago, arresting 23 individuals on Tuesday, including the reputed head of the Chicago Black Disciples gang, in connection with an alleged criminal enterprise that, authorities say, heavily impacted the crime rates on the city’s south side.
“The arrests on Tuesday came after a multiyear law enforcement investigation focused on the distribution of narcotics and guns in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side and other parts of the city, c said in a statement,” CNN reports. “Court documents describe more than 50 transactions in which the alleged gang members sold guns or drugs to people cooperating with law enforcement, according to the statement. Many of the transactions were captured on video.”
“Among those arrested is Darnell McMiller, 34, of Chicago, also known as ‘Murder.’ McMiller is described in the charges as the current leader of the Black Disciples street gang in Chicago,” according to Chicago’s ABC affiliate.
A statement from the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois also notes that authorities arrested several other high-ranking members of the Black Disciples, as well as members of the Gangster Disciples, two of Chicago’s oldest street gangs. Charges range from “drug and firearm offenses to — in one case — bank fraud,” per CNN.
The gang members are accused of packaging, housing, and distributing cocaine, heroin, fentanyl-laced heroin, fentanyl, MDMA, laundered money, and handguns. An associated drug bust, on a warehouse on Chicago’s south side, yielded more than 30 kilos of cocaine alone.
“Authorities also seized 24 firearms, more than a kilogram of heroin, about 1,350 grams of heroin laced with fentanyl, some 750 grams of fentanyl or fentanyl analogue, around 378 grams of crack cocaine, $52,595 in suspected illicit cash proceeds, and distribution quantities of suspected MDMA pills,” per CNN.
Englewood is one of three Chicago neighborhoods experiencing a dramatic uptick in gun violence since late May when the city released its coronavirus-related lockdown restrictions. That violence, authorities say, has been largely driven by Chicago’s network of street gangs, supplied by gun-running operations, trafficking weapons into the city from states and cities that have more lenient gun control laws.
President Donald Trump authorized an influx of federal agents from the FBI, ATF, and DEA to collaborate with Chicago police and stem the tide of gun violence in the city as part of Operation Legend, a national anti-crime effort. Tuesday’s bust is not directly associated with the new operation but is likely to have a dramatic impact on the task force’s efforts.
“The arrests would have happened in the normal course whether or not Operation Legend had started,” the US Attorney’s office noted. “The true test in all of our efforts [is] what will we see with the number of shootings and the number of homicides in our city.”