Oak Park Drug Bust Nets 58 Suspects
FEB 17--Highlighting the end of a four-month multi-agency effort to push drug dealers out of a Sacramento neighborhood, officials announced Monday that the clampdown resulted in 58 arrests and more than $150,000 worth of drugs being seized.
While the effort may not be staggering in terms of the volume of drugs taken, officials said the targeted crackdown will have an effect on Oak Park."Every time you take a drug dealer off the street, it is a good thing," said Anne Pings, an assistant U.S. attorney. "The focus was on trying to restore peace and quality of life to the neighborhood."
Oak Park activists -- many of whom have been working for years to clean up their neighborhood -- hailed the announcement but also wondered what comes next. "I think it's wonderful," Robin Ware said. "I just hope it continues." Councilwoman Lauren Hammond said she looked forward to continuing the push.
"We need our enforcement to be so consistent that the bad guys ... know that Oak Park is not the place to do this," she said. Of the 58 arrests, 24 of the defendants were charged with crimes in federal court and 23 of them were documented gang members. In all, 1,583 grams of crack cocaine and 364 grams of heroin were taken in Oak Park busts. Teaming on the effort were the Sacramento Police Department, federal Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. attorney's office.
The 2800 block of 38th Street in Oak Park was quiet Monday. On one end of the street, contractors labored with home improvements. At the other end of the street, wedged between Sacramento High School and Broadway, two young boys played basketball.
One resident said Monday he didn't know anything about a crack house on the street and said the neighborhood wasn't as bad as some say. But officials paint a different picture. Officials allege that Ankoma Riddick, 28, and Tyrone Copeland, 25, would by nightfall open a rented home on the 2800 block of 38th Street to conduct crack sales, closing shop and returning to other parts of town by day.
A Dec. 13 search of the home by the Sacramento Police Department's SWAT team resulted in the seizure of 45 grams of crack, 44 tabs of Ecstasy and a stolen handgun. The two gang members had a signal, said Gordon Taylor, special agent in charge of the Sacramento office of the DEA. When the porch light was on during the day, they were closed for business. "When the light went out, that meant they were open for business," Taylor said.
The crack, heroin, methamphetamine, Ecstasy and marijuana sales at that home and another rental home on the 2900 block of 43rd Street brought in a steady stream of customers, Taylor said. By one estimate, 10 to 20 people would enter the homes every 15 minutes to buy drugs, Taylor said.
While the operation out of rental homes was prolific and noteworthy, the breadth of the bust was more broad. Carl Royce Murphy, of Sacramento, who was arrested, is alleged to have controlled drug sales in at least two Oak Park residences. Murphy was arrested Feb. 2 at his Third Avenue home. Officers said they found 50 grams of cocaine at that residence, while a simultaneous search recovered 250 grams of cocaine. Taylor said Oak Park will be a better place after the arrests. "They were like termites eating away at the foundation of a house," Taylor said, "but in this case they were (eating away) at the community."