CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago police are getting a head start on efforts to prevent violence over the 4th of July weekend, with 170 people arrested and 38 illegal weapons seized during a trio of month-long operations targeting gangs and drugs.

Police said the three crackdowns were timed in part to get top-level gang members off the streets during the upcoming holiday weekend.

“When we conduct these operations, we don’t want the low-level guys that are selling the drugs on the street corner, we want the guys that are calling the shots. A lot of times, the guys calling the shots for the narcotics dealing are the same guys calling the shots for the shootings and the violence. So those are the people that we want to target,” CPD First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio said.

 

Riccio said, with a long holiday weekend coming up, it was important to “take them out of play” for as long as possible.

“Certainly that’s going to make these communities a safer place for the good people that want to get out and celebrate,” he said. “The community wants these people out of their neighborhood. Everybody in these communities wants to go out and have a barbecue over the weekend. They want to let their kids play in the front of their house. They want to go to parks. They don’t want to have to worry about these individuals.”

In one operation alone, dubbed Operation Independence, police arrested 77 people, seized 11 illegal weapons, confiscated more than $400,000 worth of illegal drugs, and seized more than $134,000 in cash over a 30-day period in seven districts citywide.

Riccio said one of the illegal guns seized was equipped with an ammo drum capable of holding 100 rounds.

“Think about the large gatherings we’re going to have over the 4th of July – parties, neighborhood parties – 100 shots in just seconds from one assault rifle, that’s a pretty scary thing,” he said.

Of those arrested in Operation Independence, 64 had previous run-ins with police, 34 were convicted felons, 16 had been arrested before on gun charges, and five were on parole. Charges included delivery of a controlled substance, drug possession, and unlawful use of a weapon.

Two parallel investigations on the South and West sides resulted in 93 arrests, 27 seized guns, and several hundred thousand dollars of confiscated drugs over the past 30 days, police said.

The Chicago Police Department also is stepping up patrols throughout the July 4th weekend, with 1,500 extra officers being deployed, largely focused on the lakefront and Navy Pier, where hundreds of thousands of people are expected to show up to watch the fireworks.

Chicago Police sources say no officers are taking days off from July 1 through July 7 during the 4th of July holiday weekend. Among those impacted are the tactical and saturation teams. The Office of the First Deputy Superintendent has mandated all police staff at headquarters and all officers at districts take part. The deployment even includes staff at the Chicago Police Academy.

On the South Side, officers are being assigned to patrol 31st Street Beach, Oakwood Beach, 57th Street Beach, 63rd Street Beach and Rainbow Beach. Lakefront patrols will also include 12th Street Beach.

Downtown officers will patrol North Avenue Beach, Oak Street Beach and Ohio Street Beach. There will also be a significant police presence at Navy Pier and more patrols at Buckingham Fountain.

On the North Side, officers will be at Montrose Beach and Foster Beach.

Police will patrol to make sure there are no ordinance violations. Patrols will take place at all locations until the beaches close at 11 p.m.

More officers also will patrol around busy bus and train routes, and along Lake Shore Drive.

Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson are expected to lay out more details of the holiday safety plan.