Impact of Fort Myers ‘Lake Boyz’ arrests still unclear

FORT MYERS, Fla. Two weeks after a Fort Myers Police Department raid on a suspected Harlem Lakes neighborhood gang netted 22 arrests, it’s not easy to tell whether the area is any safer.

Some residents say they didn’t even know a raid had taken place and haven’t noticed the neighborhood becoming quieter. An arrest affidavit identified 34 possible members of the “Lake Boyz,” meaning as many as a dozen people are still at large.

Police didn’t respond to a request for comment on the impact of the arrests. But the neighborhood, and one of is streets in particular, has long been a hub for crime.

In 2016, police went out on calls 6,450 times to Davis Court, once dubbed “The Worst Street in Fort Myers.” The Lake Boyz have racked up more than 400 charges and 200 convictions since the 1990s, encompassing homicide, drug sales, burglary, grand theft auto and battery on law enforcement officers, police said.

“This group has tormented the good citizens of the Harlem Lakes neighborhood for years,” Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs said when he announced the Jan. 19 arrests.

YouTube music videos appear to show members of the Lake Boyz posing in front of the Harlem Lakes neighborhood sign, wearing camouflage, showing off cash, holding guns and showing what the affidavit describes as gang symbols.

Gang members use hashtags like #greatlake, #lakeboybaby and #LB on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, the affidavit said. Another set of hashtags they’re said to use — #kos and #kosmovement — stand for “kill on sight,” according to the affidavit.

The 22 accused gang members who were arrested face multiple charges, including heroin trafficking, aggravated assault and various firearm offenses. The police department and the state attorney’s office investigated them for two years prior to the raid.

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