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Friday, 30 January 2009

29th Street Gang out of northeast Omaha 30-plus alleged gang members arrested

19:37 |

The arrests this week of 30-plus alleged gang members — all of whom authorities accuse of conspiring to deal crack cocaine"Because of the ties to the firearms, to the drugs," Ferrell said, "you're going to see a reduction in gang violence and violence as a whole."I think it's going to impact the neighborhoods where these individuals were living, but also impact the entire city."
The FBI on Wednesday announced the arrests of 16 people accused of crack cocaine distribution, saying they were part of the 29th Street Gang out of northeast Omaha. A federal grand jury last week issued sealed indictments against 17 people. One person remained at large.The indictments against 12 of the people recently arrested have been unsealed. Five of the 12 have been accused of conspiring to distribute 50 or more grams of crack cocaine and face charges of up to life in prison. The ages of the 12 ranged from 20 to 40.This week's arrests were in addition to the December arrests of 17 other alleged members of the 29th Street Gang on crack distribution-related allegations.John Kavanagh, special agent in charge of the Omaha FBI office, said the 30-plus arrests were good news for Omaha neighborhoods."In a metro community this small, you will see a tremendously positive impact in the community," he said, "and you should see a significant decline, certainly, in the narcotics trafficking and the violence associated with it."Omaha Police Chief Eric Buske said he is hopeful the arrests will help reduce drug and gang crime here."I don't think we're in a position to say it's a death blow," he said. "Sometimes people think that's the culmination of the investigation. . . . Based on my experience, it's the midpoint of the investigation because you have a lot more work to do."Because most of the people arrested face federal charges and long prison terms, Ferrell said, they may be more willing to assist authorities on pending investigations — such as unsolved homicide cases — in an attempt to reduce their sentences.Alberto Gonzales, the outreach coordinator for the South Omaha Boys & Girls Club, has worked for years on gang intervention. He said he expects to see a short-term drop in drug activity in north Omaha."People are going to go into a panic," Gonzales said. "The word's gonna be on the street about this big bust — everybody's going to hear about it. People are going to be quiet for a minute. But again, someone will take over where the last person left off. That's the sad thing about this disease of addiction: People are always out there ready to make that dollar."Gannie Clark, a north Omaha community activist, also isn't optimistic that the arrests will stem the flow of drugs in the city."It won't stop because it's too big," he said. "The drug market has always been too big."You can arrest 100 people tomorrow, and the average person can buy drugs in west, east, north or south Omaha," he said."It's just a sad thing. You need to stop it at the point where it's coming in."The arrests, Kavanagh said, were the result of a long-term investigation conducted by the Greater Omaha Safe Streets Task Force, which is made up of the FBI, the Omaha Police Department, the Nebraska State Patrol, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The effort also was assisted by the Bellevue Police Department, the Douglas County Attorney's Office and the Douglas and Sarpy County Sheriff's Offices.
The focus of the task force is on disrupting the criminal organizations."We leave the buy/bust operations to the suppression teams" run by local police, Kavanagh said.
Some of those arrested consider themselves 29th Street Bloods, Kavanagh said; some call themselves Crips. The Crips and the Bloods were the two main, rival gangs that moved into Omaha from Los Angeles in the late 1980s.The local gang members' ties to the main Crips and Bloods aren't that strong, he said, so the various gang members were cooperating to sell drugs."As of right now, we're seeing an association, working together, as opposed to the traditional, all-out war between the two groups," Kavanagh said. "They're very loosely based Crips and Bloods."And that's a good thing for a community, he said."When they're this loose and fractured, it's easier when you dismantle them or arrest them — there's no allegiance. . . . A structured group would have someone in place for succession."Bob Fidone, public safety and compliance director for the Omaha Housing Authority and another ex-gang unit officer, said he doesn't think the arrests will disrupt the city's drug trade, but they should have an immediate impact on violence levels.In his current job, Fidone has found that evicting troublemakers who make up 5 percent of a public housing unit's population can reduce disturbances and fights by about 80 percent.
Kavanagh said the arrests, while welcomed, are only the first phase in the process.
"This is an ongoing investigation," he said. "We will go after everybody involved in this, from the suppliers of the crack cocaine to the people supplying the weapons."

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Rochelle said...

Over a year later and the violence has increased


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