Police raid South Side CHA complex
October 18, 2006 (WLS) -- A police raid on the city's South Side led to the arrest of 18 suspected drug dealers and gang members Wednesday. Officers have warrants for 19 other fugitives.
Operation Fallout, the result of a several month investigation at the Ickes Homes complex, began at 7 a.m. Wednesday with a wake-up call from police. Dozens of officers in full gear swarmed the building while a helicopter watched from overhead.
"It was a rude awakening," said Evelyn Lewis, Ickes resident. According to Lewis, gang members and drug dealers are normally gathered at the entrances of the Ickes complex.
"Sometimes I'm late for work because I can't leave the building. I have to wait for them to be done shooting or the police to come."
But on Wednesday, police checked IDs and searched for hidden weapons and drugs inside and outside the apartment buildings.
"The mission is to enhance the quality of life here in Ickes and part of that is to get rid of the gang bangers, the Gangster Disciples and the narcotics trade. These people deserve the same quality of life you see downtown some place.")," said Cmdr. Jim Keating, Chicago Police.
The investigation began after police noticed an increase in the number of drug overdoses related to fentanyl-laced heroin. It's a particularly potent -- and deadly -- concoction that's lead to more than 150 deaths in our area this year.
"We saw highly fatal doses that are being distributed in the community. Many overdoses occurred in this area and that's the reason a team from narcotics targeted this area, these homes," said Lt. John Escalante, Chicago Police Narcotics Unit.
Some neighbors said the problem reaches far beyond the heroin problem.
"Drugs. Period. They ain't no specific drugs. Drugs. Period," said Jacques Coppage, resident.
Because the raid lasted throughout the day, many children saw the police activity on their way to school.
"It is scary for the kids. The kids told us they are scared," said Amy Rome, principal, Natl. Teachers Academy. As a result of the raid, the school opened its doors earlier to students. "We're just getting all the kids in early and will have classroom conversations about what's going on and the purpose of it and let them know they're safe to be in school right now."
"As soon as I check the children, I'm fine. That's the main concern," said A.J. Johnson, parent.
Despite the early morning activity, most residents and parents are glad to see the officers at work in their community. "I feel safer. I know my children feel safer because you don't have to worry about gangs. We won't have to dodge bullets," said Evelyn Lewis, parent.
However, residents worry that once the police return to the next hot spot, the drugs and gangs will return to the Ickes Homes, which is due to undergo a $2 million CHA renovation that will rehab about 100 apartments.
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