New vigor in Chicago for the war on drugs

June 13, 2014

WBEZ/Robert Wildeboer
In announcing 27 arrests, authorities displayed a map detailing a heroin operation on Chicago’s West Side just south of the Eisenhower expressway.

Drug enforcement officials are singing an old tune with renewed vigor as they fight the war on drugs.

“Hey, it’s another great day for the good guys in Chicago,” said Jack Riley, standing at a podium surrounded by federal and local officials Thursday.

He was announcing the arrest of 27 people in connection with a heroin operation on Chicago’s West Side.

Authorities say the heroin ring operated in a 12-block area just off the Eisenhower expressway near Douglas Park.

It’s a popular location for kids from the western suburbs because they can buy heroin and then hop back on the highway.

Related: How heroin moves to Chicago's suburbs

Riley says a new strike force with federal and local authorities sharing information gives him hope that they can make some headway in the decades old war on drugs.

“And to the bad guys out there, hey, we’re coming,” said Riley. “This is a marathon, not a sprint, we’re in it for the long haul. We’re gonna continue this fight, we’re not going to let anybody down and it really makes a difference in the communities when we do things like this.”

Chicago police say they’ll continue to do undercover buys in the 12-block area even though many of the dealers in that area were arrested this week.

Al Wysinger is the first deputy superintendent of the Chicago Police Department and the top guy while Superintendent Garry McCarthy is on medical leave recovering from his heart attack.

He said they’ll now saturate the area with officers and continue to make undercover drug buys, “to ensure that,  A, this gang doesn’t come back and try to take over and B, that a new gang doesn’t come in and try to take over and they try to start a turf war over this very same territory.”

U.S. attorney Zach Fardon says no one in this case is charged with violence but he says these arrests are an important tool for reducing violence in Chicago.

He says shutting down this drug operation is going to improve life for the people living in the neighborhood.