Police try tackling notorious open-air drug market: EXCLUSIVE - Fox 2 News Headlines

Police, neighbors try tackling notorious open-air drug market: EXCLUSIVE

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE: Mayor Emanuel Monday announced a crackdown on 18 businesses That are allegedly centers of criminal gang activity.

It's linked to a larger crackdown on illegal drug sales, to relieve neighborhoods caught in the crossfire.

Open air, drive-up drug markets are nothing new in some parts of Chicago: hand over cash, get illegal narcotics.

Neighbors and city officials told us the one at Wilcox and Francisco, in the East Garfield Park neighborhood, has been in business for 30 years, on and off -- lately, ON, with a party bus bringing in customers and a FaceBook page with more than 700 friends.

Also posted on the Internet: a slickly produced rap music video. Recorded in the vicinity, it recounts gang fights and killings at the notorious intersection.

Chicago Police and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration have arrested hundreds here. But the price of some drugs is lower than ever and the bloodshed continues.

Ardifine Wright, a neighbor, told Fox Chicago News, "Young kids are gettin' killed. I had a nephew got killed over here last week, right in front of his house. He was standing right in front of his house and somebody came up out of the gangway and shot him."

We heard similar horror stories from a dozen neighbors, only a few willing to talk on camera. Many believe bullets were recently fired through the window of a nearby home because the homeowner had complained repeatedly about the gang-controlled drug dealing.

Second Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti told us, "Law-abiding residents have to take control. Most of them are afraid to come out here and talk to you about the issues. People should be outraged at what's happening here."

When police DO appear, lookouts have usually alerted the drug dealers. They conceal the merchandise and head for one of a half-dozen boarded-up buildings nearby. As soon as the cops disappear, the gangsters are back on the beat.

When we told Police Supt. Garry McCarthy of this story late today, he said it epitomized what's gone wrong in America's so-called War on Drugs.

"Exactly what you're telling me is the reason why we need to change those tactics," says Superintendent Garry McCarthy: "As long as people have been buying for 30 years at that location, somebody else is gonna show up with supply. That's the way it goes."

"And a gun? Now, what happens if two people show up with supply and two guns? We might have actually fostered violence by the way we do our narcotics enforcement."

Superintendent McCarthy says Wilcox & Francisco is on his list of drug corners to be cleaned up and then occupied by at least one officer, 24-7, every day of the year.

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