Cuyahoga County

Law enforcement takes aim at OTZ gang

5/4/2016
First Assistant Duane Deskins speaking at the press conference held at the Juvenile Justice Center.

Cleveland – In the latest concerted effort to disrupt street gangs operating in Greater Cleveland, delinquency charges have been filed in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court against 11 members of a violent group called OTZ: Only the Zone.

The 11 young men, who range in age from 15 to 17, face a total of 151 counts, stemming from 30 different incidents that occurred between December 5, 2015 and March 22, 2016. Charges against the 11 include Participation in a Criminal Gang, Aggravated Robbery, Kidnapping, Robbery and Grand Theft Motor Vehicle.

Prosecutors believe the list of charges will grow as the investigation continues.

“These criminals often operated far afield from their homes in Cleveland and some of its inner-ring suburbs,” said First Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Duane Deskins, who leads the Juvenile Justice Division in the Prosecutor’s Office. “OTZ members have left a trail of crime and violence that stretches from Rocky River to Geauga County. But thanks to hard work by officers throughout the region and by prosecutors in our office, we have been able to piece together the details of their crimes and are treating them as the collective work of the criminal gang that OTZ is.”

Seven of the 11 alleged delinquents were already in custody when today began. Shortly before dawn, a multi-agency task force of law enforcement officers rounded up two more and continue to look for a third. A final target is believed to be out of state, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

“We thank the officers from Cleveland, East Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Fairview Park, Garfield Heights, Maple Heights, Mayfield Heights, Strongsville, Rocky River and RTA who helped bring these gang members to justice,” said First Assistant Deskins. “Their brave efforts will make safer communities for everyone.”

These charges and today’s round-up 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 inside the Juvenile Detention Center and on the streets outside.

“The work that culminated in these charges and arrests did not begin today,” First Assistant Deskins said. “It has been going on for many weeks now as law enforcement agencies have come together with prosecutors from our office to share information and to build what I am confident will prove to be a very strong case.”

Contact: Joseph Frolik, Director of Communications and Public Policy. Phone: 216.443.7488 or
Email: jfrolik@prosecutor.cuyahogacounty.us