The following is a press release issued by United States Attorney Deborah R. Gilg, District of Nebraska.
February 18, 2014
United States Attorney for the District of Nebraska, Deborah R. Gilg, announces that the “Wipe It Down” investigation, partnering the Omaha Police Department and the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), has received a regional High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, (HIDTA) award. An awards ceremony was held today at the United States Attorney’s Office honoring 24 investigators and prosecutors involved in this case. The operation, “Wipe It Down” was named as such when a member of one notorious street gang, after selling a firearm to an undercover officer, told them to be sure they “wiped it down” to remove incriminating fingerprints.
At the ceremony, United States Attorney Deborah R. Gilg commented, “The outstanding work done by this collaboration of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies disrupted a major gang influence in Omaha. This demonstrates law enforcement teamwork at its best.”
In January 2013, ATF and the Omaha Police Department began a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA) sponsored violent crime task force in response to the firearms and gang-related violence in Omaha. The objective of this HIDTA task force is to combat this violence and use federal statutes against gang members who utilize firearms to protect, intimidate, and further their criminal enterprise. Over 50 law enforcement officers and agents participated in the investigation and the execution of arrest warrants and search warrants in this investigation.
This investigation began with every known gang member or associate in the Omaha area, who was arrested with a firearm, being interviewed by Omaha Police and ATF investigators. There were numerous undercover purchases of firearms and narcotics from active gang members and their associates. Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) analysis of these firearms began to link these firearms to numerous homicides, felony assaults and drive by shooting events in and around the Omaha metro. To date, IBIS has linked 182 shooting events, 14 of which relate to homicides and 47 of which directly involved members of one particular street gang.
As a result of this investigation to date, 62 firearms, approximately 1.5 pounds of marijuana, and 310 grams of crack cocaine have been purchased or seized from known gang members and their associates.
In September and October 2013, 27 members of associated and rival criminal street gangs were indicted on various federal charges. The Douglas County Attorney’s Office charged three defendants on state charges. Arresting these 30 gang members represents a considerable impact into the operational ability of these gangs. Seven of the arrested persons are among OPD’s 15 most wanted, related to street gang activity. These 30 persons have a combined criminal history totaling 141 prior arrests, 36 prior felony convictions and 80 prior misdemeanor convictions. Five of the defendants were identified as straw firearms purchasers and were responsible for purchasing 25 firearms for violent street gang members.
“This investigation is an example of our commitment to address the problem of violent gangs whose trade is guns, drugs, and violence”, said ATF Special Agent in Charge, Gregory K. Gant. “The ATF and our partners will continue to work together to pursue, investigate and dismantle entire violent criminal organizations.”
These arrests were a result of the collaborative effort of hundreds of local, state and federal law enforcement officers, the United States Attorney’s Office and the Douglas County Attorney’s Office. Thousands of man hours have already been invested, with many more to come as we continue our work to dismantle the violent street gangs which continue to terrorize our community.
Contact: Joe Jeanette, Law Enforcement Coordinator (402-661-3725)