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Police begin roundup of 100 members of street gang

The Chicago Police and FBI began a roundup of about 100 members of the Traveling Vice Lords street gang Wednesday morning following an investigation launched about two years ago, law enforcement sources said.

The investigation, dubbed Operation Blue Knight, involved wiretaps on gang members' telephones and has led to drug, weapons and other charges, sources said. None of the suspects is charged with a violent crime, although the gang has been connected to numerous killings and shootings on the West Side, sources said.

Some of the suspects will be prosecuted in federal court and others in Cook County Criminal Court, sources said.

About 60 suspects were arrested Wednesday morning and about 40 more are being sought, sources said.

Authorities would not discuss whether any one incident launched the investigation, although they acknowledged it began in 2008 when an off-duty Chicago Police officer, Robert Soto, was killed on the West Side. Soto was sitting in an SUV along with a state Department of Children and Family Services supervisor, Kathryn Romberg, as they outside her home on Aug. 13, 2008. A Vice Lords member initially was charged with the murder, but charges were later dropped.

Like any large gang roundup, police and the FBI will interview the suspects about their knowledge of any murders or shootings, sources said.

On Aug. 17, members of the Traveling Vice Lords and other gangs were part of a sit-down with Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis and other federal and local law enforcement authorities at the Garfield Park Conservatory. The gang members were told that police would target them and their entire gang if one of its members was involved in a murder.

On Oct. 26, police announced that they kept their promise, making more than 60 arrests, mostly for felonies ranging from murder to drug and gun crimes, after 18-year-old Anthony Carter was allegedly gunned down Aug. 31 by Black Souls member Sharod Pierce near Garfield Park. Most of those arrests were of Black Souls members, police said.