East St. Louis -- Police raided three local nightclubs looking for illegal activity and health violations early Sunday morning.
A strong police presence, which was called "Operation Last Call," surrounded Club 103 located at 103 Collinsville Ave. at 1:15 a.m. At the same time, several more police agents surrounded Club Posh. Club Rolex was also on their list.
Dressed in camouflage clothing and wearing hoods, in some instances, and bullet proof vests, the officers went into the clubs with their weapons in tow. Police had reports that illegal activity, like drug sales, and underage drinking were going on, some of the patrons who had been inside said.
One or two patrons were allowed to leave Club 103 after police ran checks to determine whether they had warrants. They told reporters that there weren't any people in the club yet (at 1:30 a.m.) when the police showed up because the people don't start coming until after St. Louis clubs close.
The police also raided Club Rolex at 38th and State Street.
Outside Club 103, some women who had come to enjoy an evening out complained loudly about the police activity that eventually led to the club closing its doors for the night before 3 a.m.
"I don't know what's going on. They got people all up in the kitchen looking around. When they came stormin' in, I was just getting ready to order me some chicken wings," one lady, who wanted to remain anonymous said.
"They just pickin' on East St. Louis. We love East St. Louis," another lady shouted out.
St. Clair County Sheriff's Department Capt. Steve Johnson said "The St. Clair County State's Attorneys office issued search warrants for Club 103, and the Posh in reference to illegal activity going on."
He said the Sheriff's Department was an assisting agency in the raid. Johnson said police recovered some evidence, but he declined to discuss it further.
State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said a large detailed operation participated in executing search warrants at several liquor selling establishments in East St. Louis "which have been linked to criminal activity."
Among the participants were The St. Clair County State's Attorney's Office, the Illinois State Police, the WAVE detail, the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department, agents with the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, agents with the Illinois Department of Revenue, the St. Clair County Drug Tactical Unit, the Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southern Illinois and agents with the East Side Health District.
Johnson said 50 search warrants were served.
From Club 103, a man wearing a black T-shirt with the word security emblazoned on it was led out of the club in handcuffs. He had an outstanding warrant. An unidentified female who had an outstanding warrant on her. Dino Gene, the club manager, also was arrested.
Gene was charged with obstructing justice.
"Only in East St. Louis," said one lady. She didn't want to be identified.
She and a couple of her friends had gone to St. Louis for a bachelorette party and came back to their hometown to finish celebrating.
"We just got here and then all of these police swarmed in. Look at them. It looks like we're in Afghanistan. They have armored trucks from Alton and Madison County sitting out here. They have machine guns and everything. Look at all of these police," one woman said.
Asked weather they were afraid when they saw the large police presence, they said they were.
One man angry over the police raid said "The clubs are not the problem. Black on black crime comes to the club," Rolando Cameron said.
He wants the club to stay open.
"Other clubs have problems, but they ain't going to them. I think they're picking on Club 103. It's political stuff -- Dick Durbin. He ain't gotta come to East St. Louis and worry about somebody killing him," Cameron said.
Some others who were outside said they are happy that the clubs are getting police attention and they want earlier closing times.
Kesha Ochola agreed with the raid. "This is something they should've been doing all along. They hit two other clubs before coming here. Their age limit is suppose to be 25 and older, and they let 21-year-olds in the club."
She said she just wants to be able to have a good time and be safe.