Gang Sweep In Oklahoma County Nets Arrests, Sends Message

Tuesday, September 27th 2011, 6:38 pm
By: News 9

Darren Brown, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Two attacks on law enforcement officers within a year of each other has local agencies taking to the streets to send a message.

The attacks on Oklahoma City Police officer Katie Lawson last year and Oklahoma County Sheriff's Deputy Major John Waldenville a few months ago brought to light a disturbing trend.

In response, Oklahoma City's multi-agency task force put together "Operation Street Sweep" to specifically target gang members.  The operation lasted almost a month, netted a over 100 arrests, 7027 grams of narcotics, and nearly $21,000 from dangerous felons.

9/27/2011 Related Story: Joint Law Enforcement Operation Nets Over One Hundred Gang Members.

Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel called it a "push back."

"It is kind of a push back, " Whetsel said.  "The gang members have been emboldened to the point of being able to attack uniformed law officers in this county."

"They definitely know we're on the street," said Larry Bennett, who has been on the U.S. Marshals Metro Fugitive Task Force since it was formed in 1991. "We're sending a message to the gangs and gang activity, that they really need to get a job."

Whetsel realizes that 100 arrests only scratches the surface of Oklahoma City's gang problem, but he also knows that each operation chips away a little more of it. 

"It's saying 'We own the streets of Oklahoma county, and you're not gonna take 'em,'" he said. 

Since its beginnings in 1991, the U.S. Marshals Metro Fugitive Task Force has made over 15,000 arrests, seized over $600,000, and confiscated 194 kilos of narcotics.