'Op Perfect Storm' ending violence in Lake Worth

'Op Perfect Storm' ending violence in Lake Worth

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There's been a crackdown on gangs in Lake Worth.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office says those gangs are connected to the recent increase in shootings and violent crimes.

But the department just wrapped up a huge sweep that might help bring the violence to an end, called "Operation Perfect Storm."

The 30-day undercover operation ran from May to June, targeting the city's worst crime areas such as South G Street, Washington Avenue, 15th Avenue South,  9th Avenue South and the Dixie Highway corridor.

Neighbors hope it's enough to help them feel safe in their own homes.

I took a walk with city commissioner Omari Hardy through the streets of Lake Worth to learn more.

"This is one of the oldest parts of the city, it's also one of the poorest," he said, walking through Washington Street's Whispering Palms neighborhood. "There are people that want to take advantage of the situation, take advantage of people who are addicted to drugs."

Hardy says it's not so much the gangs that are the root of the problem. It's the drugs.

"We have a heroin problem that attracts gangs so that's what we're dealing with," he said.

PBSO provided WPTV with the results of Operation Perfect Storm:

  • Total Arrests: 186
  • Gang Members Arrested: 12
  • FIR’s (Field Interview Reports)    140
  • Gang FIR’s  17
  • Search Warrants   4
  • DNA Warrants   3
  • Traffic Citations: 140
  • Written Warnings: 54
  • Weapons Seized: 4  (two were stolen)
  • Vehicles Seized: 4
  • Currency: $11,796.00
  • Drugs Seized: Marijuana: 1054.3 grams  Cocaine: 37.1 grams, Crack Cocaine: 49.6 grams  Heroin: 54.5 grams Pills: Dilaudid, Oxycodone, Xanax, Anti-Seizure (Prescription), Alprazolam
  • Felony Vehicle Fleeing Events: 26
  • Pending Deportation (Illegal Alien with Extensive Criminal History): 1

"Many, many drugs were confiscated as well as illegal weapons and that's something that really drags down the community as well," said Hardy.

We walked past the home of neighbor Alberta Stewart fears for her elderly mother.

"Now it's like chaos," she said. "My mom is 80-years-old. I don't need this around my mom."

She's worried about several shootings this year -- including the murder of a mother in suburban Lake Worth.

"When people are on drugs, they got to find the money to get drugs," said Stewart.

Joyce Liddell works around the corner at above the sea soup kitchen.

"All my life, born and raised, this street is named after my grandfather," said Liddell.

She hopes the crackdowns will save her grandkids.

"I have grandchildren coming up. I have 10 great grandchildren coming up in this area so I thank God for it," said Liddell.

Commissioner Hardy told me Operation Perfect Storm shouldn't stop here.

"It's something that they live with, and something they feel they're resigned to. Just because they live in Lake Worth, this is something that they have to live with," he said.

Some more good news here, Commissioner Hardy told me the city wants to duplicate this operation in other areas of the city.

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