“We always targets, no matter what,” reputed New Breed gang leader Anthony “Psycho” Johnson is quoted as telling Forest Park resident Ray Longstreet recently in a wiretapped phone conversation.
Early last Wednesday morning, Johnson was proved right, as some 20 Chicago police and federal agents surrounded the brick bungalow in the 1000 block of Circle Avenue where Longstreet was living and arrested the reputed leader of the Four Corner Hustlers street gang. Longstreet, 40, has been living under home confinement since his parole from Stateville Correctional Center on May 12, 2004. During that time, police say, he headed a sprawling streetcorner drug operation on the West Side of Chicago that grossed as much as $50,000 a day.
A second Forest Park resident arrested Wednesday, Marlow Watts, 31, a reputed member of the Vice Lords street gang, allegedly distributed cocaine for Longstreet’s right-hand man, Anthony Sutton, of Oak Park, who was also arrested.
The arrests of the three men were part of Operation Street Sweeper, the latest concerted effort by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to rid the city’s West Side, and in turn, the western suburbs, of open-air drug marketing and its related criminal problems.
It is the second time in just over 12 months that members of a major Chicago street gang were arrested in Forest Park. Wallace Simmons, an alleged Mafia Insane Vice Lord gang member was arrested at his Washington Street apartment May 20, 2004 as part of Operation Day Trader, which swept up 48 gang members. Another Forest Park resident and alleged Vice Lord, Jermaine “Puda” Banks, 25, was arrested three months later on a fugitive warrant.
In all, 33 people were arrested Wednesday and charged in a federal complaint, including Anthony “Psycho” Johnson, a top leader of another Chicago street gang, the New Breeds. Wednesday police confiscated over a kilogram of cocaine, 31 vehicles, and $50,000 from Johnson’s second home in Atlanta. Overall, authorities seized over 33 kilograms of cocaine, 400 grams of heroin, six guns and 19 vehicles, including several luxury cars.
The investigation, which started in July, 2004, included wiretaps, surveillance cameras and police informants in the West Side area allegedly controlled by Longstreet and the Four Corner Hustlers. However, the operation extended to drug dealing in Illinois, Georgia, Iowa and Wisconsin, U.S. Attorney General for Northern Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald said.
“We’re talking about a scope that goes outside the city.”
Longstreet, who was paroled on a 1995 firearms conviction and for attacking a correctional officer while in prison, was restricted to home confinement since his release and was wearing an electronic monitor. According to his parole agreement, however, he was allowed to leave his home from 5 to 10 p.m. on Saturdays for “recreation.” That, said authorities, is when he conducted business related to what they say was a 36-block drug empire in the Austin neighborhood. According to a 126-page affidavit filed in support of the arrests, police contend that Longstreet personally oversaw drug sales at Division and Keeler avenues in North Austin, and Hamlin Avenue and Iowa Street in the West Garfield Park neighborhood.
The massive Street Sweeper raid occurred one week after the first anniversary of another huge drug bust, Operation Day Trader, which also involved over 200 law enforcement officials. It is, however, just the largest of six significant drug busts in the sprawling Austin area over the past nine weeks. Between March 16 and 18, Chicago police Narcotics and Gang Intelligence Section officers (NAGIS) arrested 69 people and siezed tens of thousands of dollars in drugs and cash, as well as weapons and vehicles.
Last July, soon after Longstreet was released from prison, Chicago Police dismantled a Four Corner Hustlers drug market near Parkside Avenue and Division Street that generated an estimated $10,000 a day in crack cocaine and heroin sales, arresting 16 people.
All that pressure appears to have had an effect on Longstreet. According to the affidavit, Longstreet had complained recently to Johnson in an intercepted cell phone call that the Chicago Police “won’t let me eat.”
“It’s very satisfying to hear the gang kingpins talk about their frustration in trying to ply their trade on Chicago’s streets,” said a pleased Chicago Police Superintendent Phil Cline last Wednesday.
Ironically, Longstreet likely moved to Forest Park after his release from prison to avoid the ever-present threat of violence on the West Side, a pattern many top gang leaders have followed in recent years. (In fact, Longstreet lived next door to a retired Forest Park cop).
But the effects of the business Longstreet is alleged to have been involved in have impacted both his adopted village and its neighboring suburbs in a decidedly negative way for years now. Drug customers of gangs like the Four Corner Hustlers frequently get high in Forest Park and Oak Park. More problematic, the less affluent drug addicts among them, seeking a quick, easy way to obtain extra cash, have long been a major source of such crimes as burglary, theft and retail theft, say Forest Park and Oak Park police officials.
Violence is a routine side effect of the drug trade, and the Four Corner Hustlers (4CH) are notorious for their bloody internal control battles. Since their creation in the early 1970s, at least three top 4CH leaders have either been murdered or died in prison. More recently, innocent people have suffered and died as well. This past April, two alleged 4CH were sentenced to over 100 years each in prison for their part in the fire bombing of an Austin home in 2001. The attack, in retaliation for the shooting death earlier that day of a fellow 4CH, targeted the wrong house, and a 4-year-old boy was burned to death.
Feuding between the Four Corner Hustlers and various factions of the Vice Lords street gang has resulted in a number of other shootings and killings, including a January, 2004 murder in Oak Park and most likely the murder of a young Forest Park man in Austin in February of that year.
More recently, 34-year-old Jeffrey Jones, a reputed gang member was shot in the head multiple times last January at the corner of Central Avenue and Fulton Street, reportedly by members of his own gang for allegedly robbing the gang’s drug spots.
Underscoring all that is the statement by federal agents in a 126-page affidavit that authorities videotaped two drug-related shootings over the course of their “Street Sweeper” investigation.
Chicago police expressed serious concern over the possible repercussions of having several top 4CH leaders out of prison and vying for control of the gang over last winter and this spring. Neither Longstreet nor fellow reputed 4CH leaders Shawn “Shakey” Betts nor William “Burpy” Thomas are strangers to violence, and each wanted to run the 4CH drug empire. Any battle for control of the Hustlers, especially between Longstreet and Betts, would have assuredly been a bloody one.
The powerful 5-foot, 8-inch, 250-pound Longstreet sports tattoos reading “Mob Boss” and “Wizard of Death,” and has been convicted three times for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Betts has the term “4CH” on both his right forearm and upper left arm. He was released from the Tamms super-max prison last July after serving over eight years of a 12-year sentence for aggravated kidnapping, and like Longstreet, has three convictions for being a felon in possession of a gun.
Luckily for the rest of the West Side, almost immediately after leaving prison, Betts ran afoul of his strict parole restrictions, and found himself right back at Tamms to serve out his sentence.