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Officials: ‘Operation Firewall’ nets 14 gang members

By Staff | Nov 14, 2008

Members of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Gang Unit, Intelligence Unit and Anti-Crime Unit blitzed the streets Thursday and Friday, taking into custody 14 teens and adults alleged to be gang members.

The arrests followed hundreds of hours of planning, investigation and pre-execution confirmation of targets and locations, officials said.

Operation Firewall comes on the heals of Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum’s new statewide gang reduction missive, announced in June to address the threat of criminal gangs and gang violence. The strategy focuses on stopping the growth of gangs in Florida through prevention and intervention, law enforcement, and rehabilitation and re-entry of offenders back into society.

Officials singled out the arrest of one 15-year-old youth, a former student at North Fort Myers High School, who officials say had posted on his Myspace homepage the statement “MY HIT LIST: (people I wanna kill)” that listed as many as 19 names including classmates, a teacher, a principal and a Cape Coral police officer. Officials say the youth is a self-proclaimed member of “JUGGALO,” a gang recognized as a national security threat by the FBI. He is charged with Electronic Communications to Harass by a Gang Member and Written Threat to Kill or Injure.

The 13 others arrested face charges ranging from the new statute of promoting gangs electronically (third degree felony) to invoking the kingpin statute (first degree felony) to RICO.

Source: Lee County Sheriff’s Office