Nearly 100 arrested in drug probe in Evanston, Rogers Park
September 28, 2010 7:30 PM
A months-long narcotics investigation by several law enforcement agencies resulted in the arrests of nearly 100 people, including drug dealers accused of using LINK cards to buy narcotics instead of groceries.
The five-month investigation, dubbed "Operation Hard Swipe," targeted people in Evanston and Rogers Park whom authorities accused of selling drugs and funneling money to street gangs. In some cases, authorities said today, drug dealers used taxpayer money to buy and sell drugs.
Authorities said in those cases, gang members coerced a convenience store owner to sell drugs. A cashier would bill the "customer" for $100 worth of groceries, but give the suspect crack cocaine and $20 instead, said Evanston Chief of Police Richard Eddington. The store in turn would pocket whatever money was left from the transaction.
The scheme is not new, authorities said.
"We've been suspicious for quite a long time," Eddington said. "If you go back five to 10 years you would see the same series of events."
Eddington said the operation's key objective was to capture high-level members of street gangs, including Gangster Disciples and Four Corner Hustlers. To do so, they enlisted the help of the Cook County Sheriff's Office, which at the time was working on an undercover investigation in the western suburbs.
"Operation Wood View Park," which started in February, targeted drug dealers who crossed into Maywood, Bellwood, Broadview and other municipalities to sell drugs. It developed from information gathered during a 2009 operation that focused on drug and gun trafficking at motels and hotels near O'Hare International Airport, said Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart.
Dart said that investigations are ongoing, as the various law enforcement agencies continue to gather information from the people arrested.
-- Alejandra Cancino