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City-federal effort takes down north St. Louis gang

By Rachel Lippmann

St. Louis – A joint effort between St. Louis police and three federal agencies has broken up a violent gang in north St. Louis city.

Fourteen members of the JeffVanderLou Bloods were indicted Tuesday on federal drugs and weapons charges. Forty more have been arrested and face state charges. Overall, the city's Violent Offenders Unit has arrested more than 100 people in six months. All have records of criminal violence.

Police chief Dan Isom started the unit six months ago, shortly after being promoted to chief. He is pleased with the results so far.

"So it only remains to be seen as we move out into the future whether or not we continue to have the same result as we take down these different groups," he said.

The 31-person Violent Offenders Unit brings together 14 St. Louis police officers and agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That gives the unit the resources to conduct extensive surveillance and create cases that don't require reluctant witnesses, said commander Ed Kuntz.

"We may not get them for the assault, the shooting that they did, or the murder that they committed because the case doesn't have all the pieces for prosecution, but we will get them for the crimes that they're committing," he said.

Kuntz said the unit will remain operational as long as Isom allows.