[dropcap]P[/dropcap]olice announced the arrest of over a dozen people suspected of being tied to the recent spat of drug overdoses.
Over a 72-hour period from late September into early October, a total of 74 people were hospitalized for overdosing on heroin that authorities believe was cut with fentanyl. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists Fentanyl as a very strong synthetic opiate that is approximately 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine and roughly 40 to 50 times more potent than pharmaceutical grade heroin.
Police say the drugs were bought primarily on the West Side and a few days after overdose victims started to appear in area hospitals, Chicago police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration searched the West Side for their origin. Their initial investigation led to the arrest of two reputed gang members, Alfonzo Sylvester, 24, and Mario Wofford, 26, in a sting operation, said a spokesperson for the Cook County State Attorney’s Office.
On Monday, police said a violence suppression mission targeting a narcotics-related, ongoing gang conflict in the city’s Harrison District on the West Side resulted in an additional 48 suspects being taken into police custody. Of those charged, 15 were arrested in connection to the ongoing investigation of the fentanyl-related overdoses.
Police said they targeted gang activity within the boundaries of Madison Street to Roosevelt Road and Washtenaw Street to Kedzie Avenue. And after the execution of several search warrants, police also seized three weapons and additional narcotics off of the streets.
“More than 60 percent of the targets in the violence suppression mission are convicted felons, with a number of them having criminal histories involving weapons-related convictions,” said Bureau of Organized Crime Chief Anthony Riccio in a statement. “By initiating this antiviolence strategy in the Narcotics Division and coordinating throughout the Department to maximize results, we have sent a clear message that under no circumstance will we allow violent criminal street gangs to engage in criminal activity that threatens the safety and quality of life in our communities.”
After the arrests, police saturated the area with uniformed officers and at press time authorities were still searching for suspects in connection to their ongoing investigation of the overdoses.
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