Gateway Strike Force Combats Drugs, Violence in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area
ST. LOUIS – A new St. Louis Gateway Strike Force has been formed to combat drug traffickers and violent criminals on both sides of the Mississippi River, announced Adam Cohen of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Executive Office, U.S. Attorney Steve Weinhoeft in the Southern District of Illinois, and U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen in the Eastern District of Missouri today.
The Drug Enforcement Administration St. Louis Division is one of the lead agencies in the Gateway Strike Force.
“The St. Louis Gateway OCDETF Strike Force will place a special emphasis on the region’s most serious drug and drug violence threats,” said Special Agent in Charge William Callahan, head of the DEA St. Louis Division. “The DEA will bring significant investigative resources, in collaboration with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to target the command and control of drug trafficking organizations in the St. Louis Metro and worldwide. We expect the Gateway Strike Force to identify and seize drug-related assets associated with these criminal networks for a well-rounded, targeted approach to their dismantlement.”
The St. Louis OCDETF Gateway Strike Force represents an investigative force to address major drug trafficking organizations, gangs and associated violence, including murders, in the St. Louis Metropolitan Region. The Strike Force brings together federal investigative agencies including the DEA, the St. Louis Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Marshals Service, United States Postal Investigation Service, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, and the United States Secret Service, along with State and local law enforcement offices including the St. Louis County Police Department, St. Louis City Police Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol, St. Charles County Police Department, St. Charles City Police Department, Chesterfield Police Department, Manchester Police Department, Webster Groves Police Department, Woodson Terrace Police Department, and the Missouri National Guard.
Participating agencies have agreed to assign full-time personnel to the Strike Force. Police officers, federal agents, and prosecutors are working together under one roof. For security reasons, the location will not be made public.
A DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge and an FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge and manage the Strike Force’s teams: a major crime squad, a major threat squad, and a fugitive squad. A Strike Force Executive Council, whose members include both U.S. Attorneys, will oversee the Strike Force.
With the addition of the St. Louis Gateway Strike Force, OCDETF now has 19 Strike Forces operating throughout the country. St. Louis joins OCDETF Strike Forces in major cities including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, El Paso, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, North Texas, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, San Juan, Southeast Michigan, and Tampa.
Some of the law enforcement agencies comprising the St. Louis OCDETF Gateway Strike Force started working together over the last several years as a prelude to the formation of the Strike Force. Examples of their work include:
U.S. v. Velazquez, et al: Thirty-four defendants were indicted for their roles in a large-scale drug trafficking conspiracy or related offenses. Agents seized approximately $1.3 million dollars, and more than sixty kilograms of cocaine. The indictment alleges that members of the organization committed multiple murders as part of the drug trafficking enterprise. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against one of the members of the organization alleged to have been involved in murders. Many of the defendants in this case have pled guilty in federal court.
U.S. v. Goolsby, et al: Fifteen defendants were indicted in this drug trafficking conspiracy involving the seizure of approximately 25 kilograms of cocaine, 10 kilograms of heroin, 3 kilograms of fentanyl and over $2,000,000 in currency.
U.S. v. Johnson, et al: Approximately twenty-one defendants were indicted for their various roles in the trafficking of heroin and fentanyl in and around the Peabody Housing Complex just south of downtown St. Louis. Investigators seized approximately 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, nine ounces of fentanyl, 27 firearms, and approximately $70,000.00. The indictment alleges that the members of the conspiracy committed a homicide and are responsible for two overdose deaths. Many of the defendants (approximately 15) have pled guilty in federal court.