The Evanston Police Department’s Neighborhood Enforcement Team (N.E.T.) was instrumental in spearheading and coordinating a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement effort, targeting gang members and street-level open-air drug markets.

This operation began in April of 2010 and involved the Evanston Police Department, Cook County Sheriff’s Second and Fourth District Gang Units, Cook County State’s Attorney Investigators, Northbrook and Wilmette Police Departments, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Cook County State’s Attorney.

Members of the Evanston Police Departments N.E.T. Unit reviewed citizen complaints, analyzed crime patterns, and orchestrated deployment initiatives then identified locations and individuals involved in open air drug markets and various other criminal activities.

Police used surveillance techniques, confidential informants and undercover police officers to make street-level narcotic purchases, many of which were video-taped.

By establishing relationships with street-level drug dealers, undercover officers were able to buy ever-larger quantities of narcotics. Officers made 64 undercover narcotic purchases, many of which will be deemed felonies because the transactions were conducted within 1000 feet of churches, parks and schools.

As an outgrowth of “Operation Hard Swipe,” investigators determined that a drug market was operating out of Ramy’s Foods, 1723 Simpson St. Investigators also learned that employees of Ramy’s were conducting fraudulent transactions with State of Illinois LINK Cards. These fraudulent transactions involved LINK card recipients’ falsifying food purchases and then dividing cash associated with these purchases amongst them selves and Ramy’s store employees.     

On Sept. 23, Operation Hard Swipe investigative efforts culminated in a street-level arrest sweep and the execution of four search warrants, resulting in the arrest 16 individuals. Investigators also seized 26.6 grams of crack cocaine, 10.8 grams of heroin, 18.1 grams of ecstasy, 26.6 grams of MDMA, and 354.75 grams of cannabis.

Police recovered five handguns and one shotgun and seized drug proceeds totaling $23,557.