Members of a task force formed in 2014 congregated in front of a north Charlotte neighborhood on Wednesday afternoon to announce the conclusion of an investigation that lasted over a year and ended in the arrests of 20 people.
In all, 20 men between the ages of 17 and 30 years old were arrested during the operation, which concluded on September 18. Police said a task force was created in late 2014 after two groups of men in north Charlotte began retaliating against each other with violent acts. Following one particularly reckless shooting into a home with children inside, police put together a task force to focus on arresting everyone involved in the groups, which they could fit the gang description, but were more interested in violent acts between the two groups than any organized crime.
“In the beginning of 2014, a lot of these violent actions were just against each other,” said Captain Mike Harris of the CMPD’s special investigations unit. “We mostly had victims as suspects and suspects as victims. It wasn’t until the escalation and the violence started affecting the community and innocent victims, that’s when we decided to put a task force together to combat it.”
The press conference was held in front of the Sunstone subdivision on Statesville Road. Harris said many of those involved in one of the groups resided in Sunstone, and one shooting into a residence occurred on Sunstone Drive that grabbed law enforcement’s attention because of its ruthlessness.
Harris said some members of the community did help throughout the investigation, but it was tough to get any cooperation near the beginning.
“As the investigation went on, cooperation got better, but you have to keep in mind the level of violence had created a level of fear in these communities,” Harris said. “It took the effort from these detectives and agencies to show them that we weren’t going to stand for it. As we went through the investigation, the cooperation went better.”
Harris emphasized the teamwork that went into the investigation throughout the time it was being carried out.
Detectives that formed the task force received assistance throughout the operation from North and Westover division Focus Mission Teams, the ATF, the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and a number of CMPD divisions, including homicide and electronic monitoring. Detectives also collaborated with the Fort Bend County Texas District Attorney’s Office to apprehend Kyle Duprey, who had fled to Texas.
Police also confiscated 11 weapons during the investigation and say they solved the murder of Jose Cuestas, who was shot and killed on November 28, 2014 at a car wash on Statesville Road.
When police announced 10 arrests in December 2014 as a result of the task force’s investigations, residents were skeptical, as the murder had remained unsolved at the time. With 10 more arrests made since then, and Antonio Rollins charged with murder, police said the investigation was wrapped up as of September 18, 2015.
“These 20 individuals aren’t your garden variety kind of offenders; these are dangerous, violent people facing charges for everything from shooting into occupied homes of community members, sometimes with children inside, to murder,” said Rob Tufano, spokesperson with the CMPD. “No doubt that this afternoon this community is a lot safer without these individuals on the streets.”