Police take down gang operation in Cleveland; 5 suspects wanted in string of violent crimes

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – Eight “Laflexico” gang members are being charged with a series of crimes connected to terrorizing Cleveland’s west side over the course of 15 months.

Three of the members are currently in custody.

Jorge Gonzalez (left), Antonio Rodriguez (center), Juan Fontanez (right)

Arrest warrants have been issued for five others.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley and Cleveland Division of Police Chief Calvin Williams announced Friday that a Cuyahoga County grand jury returned an indictment with more than a dozen charges.

“Gun violence has increased dramatically over the last few years and can largely be attributed to these criminal gangs and their gun-toting members,” said Prosecutor O’Malley, “We are dedicated to eliminating these gangs to make our community a safer place.”

Here’s who is in custody:

  • Antonio Rodriguez, 18
  • Jorge Gonzalez, 23
  • Juan Fontanez, 26

Still wanted are:

  • Demerio Sancheze Lewis Watkins, 20
  • Donald Haley III, 20
  • Oscar Pruitt Jr., 23
  • Kato Laws, 24
  • Timothy Looby, 26

Some of the charges are related to a shootout near West 31st St. and Clark Ave. in April 2020 and another shooting near West 6th St. and Marquardt Ave. in Cleveland in November of 2020.

According to a press release from the prosecutor’s office, the suspected gang members were involved in several other incidents that included illegally possessing firearms, fleeing from the police, and trafficking cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl.

The charges include:

  • Participating In A Criminal Gang
  • Felonious Assault
  • Improperly Discharging Into Habitation
  • Discharge Of Firearm On Or Near Prohibited Premises
  • Improperly Handling Firearms In A Motor Vehicle
  • Having Weapons Under Disability
  • Carrying A Concealed Weapon
  • Trafficking
  • Drug Possession
  • Possessing Criminal Tools
  • Tampering With Evidence
  • Failure To Comply
  • Receiving stolen property

Arrest warrants have been issued for the five suspects who are still not in custody.

The effort was part of Operation Legend.

Operation Legend was a violent crime initiative launched in July of 2020 under former President Donald Trump’s Law and Order initiative.

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