Oak Park man arrested in federal drug sweep

? Anthony Sutton alleged to be top aide and weapons supplier to West Side gang boss Ray Longstreet.

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By BILL DWYER

An Oak Park resident reputed to be a high-ranking member of the violent Four Corner Hustler street gang was arrested last Wednesday in a massive federal and Chicago police sweep of a West Side drug operation.

Anthony Sutton, 34, is alleged to have overseen drug spots for Four Corner Hustler chief Ray Longstreet. and supplied the street gang with weapons it used to protect its drug operation. In addition, Sutton reportedly supplied cocaine to dealers selling as far away as Milwaukee.

Operation Street Sweeper, 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."

In all, 33 people were arrested Wednesday and charged by Fitzgerald's office, including Anthony "Psycho" Johnson, a top leader of another street gang, the New Breeds. Police say the operation brought in $50,000 a day. Investigators seized over 33 kilograms of cocaine, 400 grams of heroin, six weapons, and 19 vehicles. Police say that the Four Corner Hustler territory that Sutton helped Longstreet control was bordered by Pulaski Road on the west, Ridgeway on the east, Chicago Avenue on the south, and Division Avenue on the north.

According to a 126-page affidavit filed in support of the arrests, Sutton reportedly oversaw sales of cocaine and heroin at the corner of Iowa and Hamlin in the West Garfield Park neighborhood, and later at Avers and Iowa and at Iowa and Pulaski. A confidential federal informant reportedly told investigators that Sutton paid Longstreet between $5,000 and $10,000 per week for permission to sell at prime drugs spots.

Longstreet, 40, was arrested at his home in the 1000 block of Circle Ave., in Forest Park early Wednesday morning. Longstreet's arrest made the headlines, but he was under home confinement and electronic monitoring as a condition of his parole, and could only leave his house for five hours once a week.

Sutton, who had residences in both the 500 block of North Lombard Avenue in Oak Park and in the 3900 block of West Lexington Street in Chicago's West Garfield Park neighborhood, had no such restrictions. He was reportedly quite active in his operations, allegedly using a 1995 Chevy 1500 conversion van with a hidden compartment capable of storing as much as 20 kilograms of cocaine and heroin for transport. Unbeknownst to Sutton, federal agents had succeeded in placing a tracking device in the van last December. In addition, agents had Suttons's Oak Park home under physical surveillance.

Ironically, Sutton most likely moved to Oak Park to avoid the ever-present threat of violence on the West Side, a pattern many top gang leaders have followed in recent years. Sutton never conducted any overt criminal activities in Oak Park, and police here said Tuesday that they had had no contacts with him.

"He didn't do anything while he was living here to raise our suspicions," said Deputy Chief of Police Robert Scianna. Oak Park police, Scianna said, were called in by federal and Chicago officials early last Wednesday morning to act as backup while they executed arrest and search warrants at Sutton's home.

"Had we come across him for any reason, it would have been pretty easy to determine who he was," said Scianna.

Sutton and Longstreet, however, were well aware that other police agencies were after them. The massive Street Sweeper raid, which occurred one week after the first anniversary of another huge drug bust, Operation Day Trader, 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 May 18, Chicago police Narcotics and Gang Intelligence Section officers (NAGIS) arrested 69 people and seized tens of thousands of dollars in drugs and cash, as well as weapons and vehicles.

Last July, 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. On March 31, investigators seized 30 kilograms of cocaine and $19,000 from one of Sutton's suppliers. Six kilos of that cocaine, an affidavit alleges, were in a backpack marked "A. Sutton."    On May 4, Longstreet was reportedly recorded telling Sutton to be careful around the spot at Iowa and Hamlin, because undercover officers were making purchases there, then coming back and making arrests.

And in a recent intercepted cell phone conversation with New Breed gang leader Anthony "Psycho" Johnson, the third major figure in Operation Street Sweeper, Johnson tells Longstreet, "We always targets, no matter what."

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 Chicago police Supt. Phil Cline last Wednesday.

CONTACT: bdwyer@wjinc.om

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