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Cuyahoga County File 151 Charges Against Suspected Juvenile Gangmembers

photo of Duane Deskins
Kabir Bhatia

Cuyahoga County officials have filed charges against 11 members of a street gang whose members range from 15- to 17-years-old.

The members of the gang -- known as OTZ or Only The Zone -- face 151 counts including kidnapping, robbery and grand theft auto. The alleged crimes occured between last December and March of this year, and the prosecutors’ office says the list of charges will probably grow as the investigation continues. The crimes reportedly occurred in Cleveland as well as its suburbs.

Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecutor Duane Deskins says nine of the 11 teens are already in custody and officials here are searching for another. One more is believed to be out-of-state.

"We're going to continue to look at other individuals through the sources of our investigation and try to identify all the major players who are involved. My sense is that their hope is that we simply treat them as one incidence. And not try to show the pattern of gang activity that they've carried out. This is our eighth such gang case since June of 2014."

The charges mark the eighth major strike at gangs operating in Cuyahoga County since June 2014, when law enforcement targeted the Heartless Felons for crimes committed both on the streets and inside the Juvenile Detention Center.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.