Chicago, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Eight known or suspected members of the Gangster Disciples street gang were arrested early yesterday, culminating a nearly three-year investigation into drug trafficking in and around the Cabrini-Green housing project on Chicago’s near north side, announced Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Jody P. Weis, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD).
All of those arrested were taken into custody at various locations in Chicago, without incident, by members of the FBI’s Joint Task Force on Gangs and Officers from the CPD, Gang Investigations Unit. Four defendants were charged in separate criminal complaints, filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court in Chicago, with Distribution of a Controlled Substance (crack cocaine) which is a felony offense, while four others were charged in Cook County Circuit Court with firearms violations.
According to the complaints filed in federal court, four of those charged were alleged to have been involved in the wholesale distribution and sale of crack cocaine on Chicago’s near north side since at least November of 2007. The primary areas from which they are alleged to have distributed illicit drugs were bounded by Evergreen Avenue, Sedgwick Avenue, Chicago Avenue, and Larrabee Street.
Those arrested yesterday who were charged with violating federal drug laws, all of whom are from Chicago, are identified as ERNEST BANKS, age 36, of 1244 North Bosworth Avenue; BAAQUE JOHNSON, age 34, of 2118 west Madison Street; ERNIE ROBINSON, age 38, of 10618 South Perry Avenue; and LEVALE VANN, age 30, of 1170 West Erie Street.
Those arrested yesterday who were charged with violating state firearms laws, all of whom are from Chicago, are identified as TAVARES GUNN, age 19, of 1230 North Burling Street; JAROD JARRETT, age 23, of 1648 North Vine Street; COREY SMITH, age 36, of 1534 North Linder Avenue; and ELLIS Woodland, age 36, of 565 North Pine Avenue.
The lengthy investigation leading to the filing of the charges and arrests announced today, code named operation “Badlands,” is part of an ongoing and coordinated effort by local, state, and federal authorities to identify and dismantle the many highly organized drug trafficking organizations operating in and around the Chicago metropolitan area. This investigation employed the extensive use of sophisticated physical surveillance techniques, the controlled purchase of illicit drugs and the consensual recording of telephone conversations involving one or more of the defendants.
The CPD’s Gang Investigations Unit participated in the arrests and provided invaluable assistance during the investigation.
In announcing these arrests, Mr. Grant recognized the FBI’s continued partnership with the Chicago Police Department in combating violent street gangs. Said Mr. Grant, “The success of investigations, such as Operation Badlands, demonstrates our ongoing commitment to working with the Chicago Police Department in trying to eradicate street gangs and the violence that their activities bring to the community.”
Superintendent Weis added “This investigation shows our continued commitment to working with our federal law enforcement partners in pursuing gang and drug activity, and minimizing its effect on the residents of Chicago.”
BANKS, JOHNSON, ROBINSON, and VANN all appeared before Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys in Chicago, late yesterday, at which time they were formally charged. All four were ordered held without bond, pending their next court appearance, which is scheduled for June 21. Until then, they will be housed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago. If convicted of the charges filed against them, all four defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of ten (10) years’ incarceration to a maximum of life in prison.
GUNN, JARRETT, SMITH, and WOODLAND are being held in Cook County Jail on secured bond of $70,000 each. Their next scheduled court date is June.
The Chicago FBI’s Joint Task Force on Gangs is comprised of FBI special agents and officers from the Chicago Police Department.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.