DENVER (CBS4)– Gang members were targeted in a drug trafficking crackdown in the Denver metro area on Thursday.
The FBI teamed up with the Metro Gang Task Force, U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Aurora Police Department to arrest dozens of gang members, specifically the East Side Crips.
Agents say the gang members were dealing drugs in public places, like parks and transportation centers, in places like Curtis Park and the Five Points Neighborhood.
According to the FBI, the goal of the investigation is to remove the fear and danger that the gang members force people to live around.
The arrests were spurred by federal grand jury indictments of 52 individuals with trafficking cocaine and crack cocaine. Of those, 35 were arrested on Thursday and they appeared in court where they were advised of their rights and charges.
The other 17 are considered fugitives.
“These folks switched cars frequently, they switched drivers frequently, they switched cell phones frequently. So while it was public, while it was notorious, while it may have been caught on RTD video camera … the openness of it, in a way, made it more difficult,” said acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer.
The blurred faces on the board represent the people who are in custody. The Department of Justice is not allowed to release the mug shots. The suspects faces that are visible are still on the run.
“Today’s arrests are indicative of the success that can be attained when agencies combine resources to attack violent street gangs,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers. “Crimes of this nature cause our citizens to live in fear and threaten to destroy our neighborhoods. This cannot be tolerated. We are confident today’s arrests will send a message to those contemplating committing these egregious acts that they will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The FBI will continue to continue to work with our law enforcement partners and prosecutors to attack this crime problem and remove violent criminals from our neighborhoods.”
If convicted, the 52 defendants face a wide variety of criminal consequences depending on the drug trafficking charges. Some face at least 10 years and up to life in prison, others face at least five years and up to 40 years, and yet others face no more than 20 years in federal prison.