FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Fort Myers Police Department announce the results of a successful operation that led to the arrest of numerous gang members this week.
"The arrests that have occurred in the past 24 hours are just another phase in the investigation," Chief Derrick Diggs said. "It is not the end."
According to the FMPD, the men arrested during the 14-month Operation Great Lakes are part of the "Lake Boyz" gang they say have been based in the Harlem Lakes neighborhood for years. Many of those members were arrested early Thursday morning.
"It started about 4:30 in the morning and before I had a chance to even get to the command post all these individuals were in custody," Chief Diggs said. "That's how smooth this operation went."
Arrests in the operation include charges on racketeering, drug possession, and weapons charges. Agents from the State Marshall's Office assisted in the arrests. State Attorney Steve Russell says they will be applying the state law designed to crack down on organized crime called the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Statute (RICO) Act.
"We use Rico in prosecutions. We thought this was a way to look at out of the frustration of cases we couldn't quite get there because we didn't have the evidence to support them," State Attorney, Steve Russel, said.
Police say members of this gang have been involved in over 400 arrests and 200 convictions over the years.
Chief Derrick Diggs describes the investigation as thorough and "very time consuming." He says they still need help from the community, for them to step up and help provide information on this gang.
More members are being investigated and more arrests may be forthcoming. "We're not done yet," says Chief Diggs.
The State Attorney and Fort Myers Police Chief emphasized that while they don't depend solely on eyewitnesses, they hope people will feel comfortable enough to come forward and cooperate with information about past crimes without the fear of retaliation or threats.
Arrested were the following individuals:
- Dexter Williams
- Eric Fletcher
- Ezekiel Burger
- Freeman Best
- James Brown
- Jermaine Neal
- Jovan Duncan
- Michael Chatman-Dillard
- Tommy Williams
- David Neal
- Deiondre Clennon
- Detron Williams
- Diante Davis
- Gerrell Banks
- Glen Green
- Imari Gray
- Javaris Wardlow
- Jonathan Griffin
- Kwameaine Brown
- Leonard Hamilton
- Natryi Pitts
We'll have more on this story tonight on Fox 4 News at 6.