Progress reported in control of Tulsa-area gangs
BY KENDRICK MARSHALL World Staff Writer
Saturday, November 24, 2012
11/24/12 at 7:19 AM
The Tulsa Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service announced Friday that 146 violent gang members were taken off the street during a two-month joint gang enforcement operation.
Operation Triple Beam III, which ran from August to October with members of 11 law enforcement agencies, also resulted in the recovery of 29 firearms, $20,000 in cash, and $22,300 in cocaine, marijuana and PCP, authorities said.
"Once again, our collaborative efforts with the U.S. Marshals Service have given us remarkable results in the area of gang violence," Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said.
During the operation, robbery with firearms crimes dropped by 31 percent and firearm-related assaults decreased 23 percent, authorities said.
The task force also investigated 35 gun cases during the operation and interviewed more than 260 documented gang members, according to Tulsa police data.
Among the arrests were Everett Wilson, 21, and Ronnie Barnett Jones, 22, in connection with a triple shooting Sept. 10 outside a duplex on Owasso Place near 63rd Street.
One of the victims, 25-year-old Shametra J. Fields, died of multiple gunshot wounds Sept. 11.
That same day, Jermaine Jackson, 19, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of 18-year-old Kristjan Hinrik Thorsson and 37-year-old John White III following an argument at the QuikTrip store, 1415 E. 71st St., on Sept. 8. Thorsson, a Jenks High School student, died within hours after being shot. White succumbed to his injuries Sept. 10.
Dwaine Ryder, 29, was taken into custody after he was accused of shooting 32-year-old Emil L. Barron on Sept. 4 at the Parkview Terrace Apartments in the 1500 block of West 59th Street.
"The citizens of Tulsa and northeast Oklahoma can be assured that their federal and municipal law enforcement agencies are and will always work in concert to target and remediate gang-related violence aggressively," Jordan said.
Operation Triple Beam, first conducted in 2010 in Tulsa, has since been used as a national model for the U.S. Marshals Service enforcement operations, officials said.
When the police department was in the midst of administrative cutbacks, Jordan and Mayor Dewey Bartlett understood that maintaining an active gang unit would be vital to combat the various crimes associated with those groups, said Sgt. Sean Larkin, who leads the Organized Gangs Unit.
"Chief Jordan wanted to keep it strong," Larkin said. "Even with all the changes being made in the department the unit has been kept staffed."
It's so strong that Larkin says it rivals cities like Oakland, Calif.
The 15 officers have been responsible for numerous drug and illegal handgun busts throughout Tulsa in recent years by aggressively tracking and gathering intelligence.
"They are everywhere," U.S. Marshal Service spokesman Chad Hunt said of gangs, such as the Hoover Crips and Neighborhood Crips who have had a heavy presence in Tulsa and surrounding areas for more than 20 years. They just don't set up on a single block and stay there, he said.
One trend the unit has seen over the last two years is the growth of Hispanic gangs within Tulsa, which can be attributed to the migration of gang members from Texas and Oklahoma City, Larkin said.
The Surenos, Nortenos, Latin Kings and others account for more than 500 documented gang members, Hunt said.
The commitment of law enforcement to reduce violent crime through multiagency gang enforcement operations is key to ultimately reducing crime committed by the more than 3,000 active gang members, officials said.
"We don't have any more gang activity than any other city," Larkin said. "But we know shootings, robberies and other crimes are tied to them."
Original Print Headline: Progress reported in control of gangs
Kendrick Marshall 918-581-8386
Tulsa Police Sgt. Sean Larkin (left) and Chief Chuck Jordan talk with members of the Tulsa City Council in July about gang activity in Tulsa. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World file