Chicago-(ENEWSPF)- More than 65 defendants are facing federal or state narcotics charges for their alleged roles in distributing heroin, cocaine and fentanyl on Chicago’s West Side.
The joint federal and state investigation, dubbed “Operation Sweet Dreams,” spanned more than a year and resulted in the seizures of more than a dozen firearms, including an assault rifle and semiautomatic pistol, more than three kilograms of heroin, three kilograms of cocaine, and more than $380,000 in cash. Authorities uncovered the alleged criminal activity through the use of wiretapped cellular phones, undercover narcotics purchases and extensive surveillance. The probe was conducted under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), with assistance from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA).
Law enforcement officers began arresting several of the defendants this morning.
The charges describe an extensive network of drug distribution, based predominantly in the Garfield Park, Homan Square and North Lawndale neighborhoods on the city’s West Side. Two of the defendants were charged with federal firearm violations as part of criminal complaints filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court and unsealed after the arrests.
The federal defendants will begin making initial court appearances this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge M. David Weisman in Chicago. The state defendants were charged in separate complaints and will appear at a later time in Cook County Criminal Court.
The charges were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Kimberly M. Foxx, Cook County State’s Attorney; Dennis A. Wichern, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration; Eddie T. Johnson, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department; and James D. Robnett, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. The officials recognized the valuable assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service and the Illinois State Police.
The investigation uncovered numerous drug deals, including one that occurred last October in an alley in the 1800 block of North Leavitt Street in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago. A defendant purchased two kilograms of heroin in exchange for $132,800 in cash, the complaint states. The defendant was under law enforcement surveillance when he picked up the cash from a Near West Side house, the complaint states. The money was wrapped in a red and white Target shopping bag.
The investigation further revealed that one of the defendants agreed to sell his Chevrolet conversion van to a buyer he met in an online marketplace in exchange for a kilogram of cocaine. Unbeknownst to the defendant, the purported buyer was an undercover law enforcement officer. During an afternoon meeting last August at Diversey and Austin Avenues in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood of Chicago, the undercover officer gave the defendant a black bag containing a kilogram of sham cocaine in exchange for the van, according to the complaint. The deal was surreptitiously recorded by law enforcement.
The investigations were conducted under the umbrella of the OCDETF program, a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of OCDETF is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations.
The public is reminded that complaints contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeremy Daniel and Jeannice Appenteng are representing the government in the federal cases. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office is representing the government in the state cases.
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