Saturday, October 29, 2011

"This community belongs to the good people who live here."

18 Walnut Hills/Avondale Crack Gang Suspects Arrested 85 Indictments Handed Down
Re-printed from a story at WCPO Channel 9 on October 28th 2011

The Walnut Hills neighborhood is a high crime area in where even small children are targets of Armed Robbery.

CINCINNATI - Cincinnati Police and its SWAT Team executed a daring mid-afternoon rush hour raid and bust of alleged members of a Walnut Hills gang. By 7 p.m. Friday, 14 had been arrested in the sweep. Less than 3 hours later, the number of arrests grew to 18.

Over 50 police officers were involved in the busts, which were executed in Walnut Hills and other locations, after sealed indictments and warrants were issued for the suspected gang members' arrests. The Walnut Hills Operation, as District 4 officers referred to the sweep, was 7 months in the planning.

The center of the raid was on a Walnut Hills convenience store/mini-mart called Frog Da Great's in the 700 block of East McMillan Street. Police say it was a center for gang activity, especially during the late afternoon.

9 News was allowed to ride along for the raid. We witnessed at least eight arrests, with suspects being put in vans to be transported first to District 4 Police Headquarters, and then to the Hamilton County Justice Center.

Police say the raid was the result of a seven month investigation into crimes and drugs the Walnut Hills gang had been connected with. Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig was on hand for the arrests, along with District 4 Captain Eliot Issac.

Chief Craig told reporters during the sweep, "This criminal activity will not be tolerated. This violence will not be tolerated. This community belongs to the good people who live here."

The raid and SWAT Team actions shut down East McMillan Street for about 90 minutes at the height of rush hour on Friday.

Residents several blocks away came forward to see what was going on. Several said they had problems with gangs and drug dealing in the neighborhood and were very happy to see police taking such visible action against a neighborhood street gang.

Resident Spring Perry lives less than a block away from the storefront that was the focus of the gang bust. She says, "The neighborhood watch, and all that, so they've been trying to crack down around here, so far as the neighbors. So they are doing a good job. It's a big turning point."

Police pledged to continue the arrests through Friday evening and into the weekend. It's believed as many as 26 may be named in sealed indictments in connection with homicides, shootings, gang violence as well as illegally having guns and drugs.

During the sweep through Walnut Hills, officers confiscated 3 handguns, along with a quantity of cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin. $10,000 in cash was also seized.

Meanwhile, police back at the Frog Da Great's mini-mart were busy with evidence markers, as they searched through merchandise inside the store.

WCPO Channel 9, Cincinnati Police Bust Large Walnut Hills Crack Gang
WLWT Channel 5, Police Target Suspected Gang Members In Avondale