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CHICAGO (CBS) – More than two dozen people are facing drug-related charges stemming from a police investigation in the Uptown neighborhood.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel reports, Operation Uptown Girl began in March, after police were alerted to a growing number of fights, shootings and homicides in the neighborhood.
Eighteen people have been arrested, including three juveniles. Police seized cash, narcotics and a semi-automatic weapon, the Sun-Times Media Wire reported.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Mary Frances Bragiel reports
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez says undercover officers executed the operation by making drug purchases from alleged gang members, which were caught on surveillance video. The deals happened within 1,000 feet of schools in the area, police said.
The investigation targeted members of the Gangster Disciple and Conservative Vice Lords gangs involved in a conflict over gang and narcotics territory on Sheridan Road near Lawrence and Wilson avenues, Alvarez’s office said.
Facing charges are: David Burbridge, 46; Michelle Carvajal,33; Victor Forrest, 23; Mario Hammond, 28; Keith Jones, 20; Jesaja Kandoni, 52; Leslie Lawrence, 29; William Moss, 30; Javian Seals, 26; Gregory Smith, 20; David Villanueva, 18; Kalief Whitfield, 21; and Mary Wright, 37.
An additional defendant, Lanier Smith, was not part of the initial investigation, but was allegedly caught with drugs as police investigated, the Sun-Times Media Wire reported.
Three more defendants have been charged as juveniles, and arrest warrants are out for those who remain at large, Alvarez’s office said.
The defendants are all facing drug-related charges, and could go to prison for up to 15 years if convicted.
Crime and violence and Uptown have dropped dramatically compared with decades ago, but has drawn many complaints from neighbors in recent years.
In August 2009, a widely-publicized cell phone video showed what neighbors called a near-riot in the middle of the street at Sheridan Road and Leland Avenue. In the gang fight, about 35 people began throwing rocks, bottles and sticks at each other.
At the time, neighbors complained that fights in the streets had been turning into a regular occurrence at the intersection. They told S 2′s Dorothy Tucker that the fighting and gunfire would start about 9 p.m., and erupted into chaos every night for a week.
Violence in Uptown also dominated the headlines on Halloween last year, when three teenagers were shot and critically wounded as children trick-or-treated in broad daylight. Families ducked behind parked cars for safety as the shots rang out near Montrose and Magnolia avenues.
Two 17-year-old boys and a 13-year-old boy were wounded in the shooting.
In a separate incident about an hour later that day, a 35-year-old man identified as Marlos Canteberry was shot in the head and killed a few blocks away in the 1000 block of West Sunnyside Avenue.
Helen Shiller, the alderman representing the Uptown neighborhood at the time, was criticized by many neighbors who viewed her as soft on crime. Shiller retired this year, and has been replaced by Ald. James Cappleman (46th.)