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‘We’re not going away’ — Cops continue gang crackdown

An officer stands guard Thursday outside home being searched 1400 block North Fairfield. | Frank Main~Sun-Times

An officer stands guard Thursday outside a home being searched in the 1400 block of North Fairfield. | Frank Main~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 11, 2011 5:54PM

With their weapons drawn, Chicago Police officers launched a new assault on the Maniac Latin Disciples on Thursday.

Supt. Garry McCarthy declared war on the gang in June after a member allegedly shot and wounded two young girls on the Northwest Side. Since then, patrol officers have made more than 500 arrests of gang members.

On Thursday, it was the narcotics division’s turn. Narcotics officers have spent months building drug cases against gang members.

Early Thursday, they met outside the boathouse in Humboldt Park, where about 25 officers gathered for a roundup.

“We are chasing down MLDs today,” Sgt. Ruben Ramirez told the officers.

More than 20 gang members were targets of the investigation, Ramirez said.

They live in what the gang calls “The Twilight Zone” from California and Western to Division and North.

“They’re shooting people. That’s why we’re on these guys right now,” Ramirez said.

Some of the officers wore bandanas to hide their faces because they work undercover.

They jumped into their unmarked cars and drove off to arrest their targets.

One group of officers rolled up to the 1400 block of North Fairfield. They sprinted down the street to a small brick apartment house.

Two officers carried assault weapons, one used a battering ram to open the front door and others burst into the house with their handguns drawn, yelling “Search warrant!”

Their target wasn’t there. Later, they learned he ran off with his dog.

But other targets lived on the same block. One of them, Jose Martinez, slammed his front door after he spotted the officers. They repeatedly knocked on the door, and he finally opened it. Martinez stepped outside and was arrested on a warrant for allegedly selling drugs to an undercover officer.

“This house has been a problem for a couple of years,” said Matthew Joyas, a patrol officer from the Humboldt Park District.

“They hang out and sell drugs. Every time we come down the street, they run inside. It’s just nonstop gang activity out here,” Joyas said.

Police said Martinez allowed them to search the home. They found marijuana “residue,” as well as scales and packaging they said were evidence of drug dealing. Martinez is a self-admitted member of the gang, police said.

But Martinez’s father, Jose Martinez Sr., questioned whether his son gave the officers permission to search the house.

He said his son quit the gang and is taking classes to become a cook. His son smokes marijuana to cope with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the father said.

“He’s not a drug dealer,” the father said. “I don’t know why they’re searching the house.”

Down the block, the officers arrested Martinez’s cousin on drug charges. He’s a member of the gang, too, police said.

By early afternoon, police had taken eight alleged MLD members into custody and seized a sport utility vehicle, which they planned to search for drugs and cash.

“We’re not going away,” said McCarthy, the police superintendent.

He said the department will work with churches, community groups, business owners and politicians to keep gang members from reopening drug markets on the blocks the officers targeted Thursday.

“We’re not giving that territory back,” McCarthy said.

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