A six-month investigation has dismantled a Westside gang, arrested 19 people and seized 18 guns, including an assault-style rifle, the sheriff says.
Operation Crown Down left the Insane Gangster Disciples gang “functionally extinct,” Sheriff T.K. Waters said Tuesday.
“When you talk about selling fentanyl, methamphetamine and all of those drugs, and the guns involved, I think they are a terror,” Waters said. “I think they are a serious problem, but not anymore. And we will continue to focus on those areas to make sure that if there is anything lingering, anyone hanging out that’s a part of this group, we are going after them also.”
The gang, a loose subset of the Chicago-based Gangster Disciples, included members with nicknames like “Mouse,” Goofy Gee” and “Wolf.” Investigators from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office began tracking down members after a shooting in May 2022 killed Devante Jackson, 24, in a Kirkpatrick Circle condominium complex near Wilson Boulevard and Interstate 295, police said.
The death led to the arrest a week later of Tarek Zakia Randolph, 25; Chase Alan Robison, 27; and Sydney Nicole Buhl, 23, each on charges of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Investigators learned that Robison is a member of the gang, Waters said.
The gang “operates locally with its roots in Jacksonville’s Westside,” Waters said. “Additionally, investigators learned that its members trafficked in narcotics and engaged in acts of violence. Given the dangers posed by these gang members, investigators crafted this operation with the intention of arresting as many members as possible to rid our community of this criminal organization.”
The investigation was a joint effort of the Sheriff’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The arrests are a “clear-cut example” of what happens when multiple agencies work together, said State Attorney Melissa Nelson.
“Illegal firearms, drugs and a local criminal enterprise whose activities have caused immeasurable harm in our community have now have been taken off the streets,” Nelson said. Drug dealing by one of the suspects directly led to the death of a man in December, she said. “Though he did not pull a trigger, his actions were just as deadly,” she said.
Edward Gansz, 44, was arrested on drug charges initially but now faces a manslaughter charge, police said.
The investigation also netted 111 grams of methamphetamine, 22 grams of fentanyl, 16 grams of cocaine and almost 4 grams of heroin, Waters said.
Forensic research on the weapons showed the rifle was used to kill Jackson almost a year ago, Waters said. One of the handguns was used in shooting in 2021, he said.