CHICAGO (STMW) – Nearly 200 gang members belonging to what the Chicago Police Department calls the most violent gang faction in the West Side’s Harrison District have been arrested as part of the department’s effort to crack down on gangs that are responsible for homicides, police Superintendent Jody P. Weis announced on Sunday.

The arrests are part of the Chicago Police Department’s ongoing violence reduction strategy which aims to make life difficult for gang members in the wake of gang-related homicides. In August of last year, Chicago Police initiated their strategy, informing gang members that the gang faction responsible for the next homicide in the Harrison District area would be held accountable for the violence through targeted, strategic enforcement efforts of law enforcement partners. When the Black Souls gang committed the first murder two weeks later, police said, they made themselves the target of this CPD strategy.

Subsequently, more than 60 arrests of members belonging to this faction were arrested, a release Sunday from Chicago police said.

At the same time Chicago Police were targeting the Black Souls in order to make good on the “call-in” promise, a distinct joint mission dubbed Operation Blue Knight already was underway to surveil the illegal drug trade of the Traveling Vice Lords, a faction which had been identified as the most violent gang in the Harrison District, the release said. Operation Blue Knight culminated in the arrest of more than 100 gang members, with more than 30 of these arrests for federal charges, and another 70 for state felony charges, the release said.

Following Operation Blue Knight, Chicago Police District law enforcement personnel and specialized units initiated supplemental action against the Traveling Vice Lords to reinforce the success of the mission. Chicago Police made multiple firearm recoveries and 90 more arrests of this faction’s members. Since the call-in, arrests and charges against Traveling Vice Lord members have included:

• 39 felony arrests
• 28 warrant arrests
• 53-narcotic-related arrests
• 6-weapons-related arrests

Weis announced the arrests at a press conference at police headquarters Sunday morning.

Weis noted that the violence reduction strategy has demonstrated promising results, including a 40 percent drop in homicides in the Harrison District between the initial call-in and the end of December 2010. Among other jurisdictions employing the call-in strategy, a 40 percent decrease was not seen until after the third call-in.

“We have gained momentum through this initiative and we won’t stop here,” Weis said. “The next call-in is on the horizon, and the message will be clear – the next gang-related homicide will receive the full attention of all law enforcement partners,” he added.

Weis emphasized the call-in strategy involves offering social service aid to gang members, as well as job training and continuing education. Comprehensive enforcement action only is the result of gang members continuing to engage in illegal activities, he said.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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