Cincinnati Police said they've arrested 15 people and taken 11 weapons off the streets so far as part of an ongoing investigation of gang-related violence in the West End. The effort represents four months of investigative work by various law enforcement agencies as part of the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence, also known as CIRV.
"We want to send a loud and clear message that we do not accept homicides; we do not accept violent behavior," said Mayor John Cranley at a press briefing Thursday.
His sentiment was echoed by the chairman of city council's Law and Public Safety Committee, Christopher Smitherman, who noted the initiative was good news for Cincinnati, bad news for criminals.
"Places like Bond Hill, Roselawn, Price Hill, those places that are saying we have a concentration of violence, they are going to feel relief," said Smitherman. "But the bad guys who are saying they don't want to turn their lives around, those are the ones that must be put on notice."
Police said by capitalizing on the investigative expertise of multiple agencies, several of the most violent and hardened criminals from the streets and neighborhoods of Hamilton County are in custody or wanted on outstanding warrants. Among them, Julius White who was arrested for the October 15 murder of Dwayne Lewis Jr. in South Fairmount. Police said White controlled the drug markets in a section of the West End.
They said the investigation expanded from White's arrest. Several of his associates had migrated to the West End from a gang that operated at Green and Race in Over the Rhine and from a gang located in the 1700 block of Vine Street. Police said they were known to be incredibly violent, with firearms being their weapon of choice.
Another person arrested in this investigation was Shamsudin Pickens. Police said he's well known for his criminal activities on Lockhurst Lane and in the Green and Race area of Over the Rhine. Pickens is currently being held in the Hamilton County Justice Center on a $1.1 million dollar bond on nine counts of drug trafficking.
Besides the Cincinnati Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department, and Federal Bureau of Investigation are involved.