CHICAGO —(ENEWSPF)–March 24, 2017. Members of a Chicago street gang and a Mexican supplier are among eleven individuals charged for their alleged roles in the distribution of heroin and cocaine on the city’s West Side.
The joint federal and state investigation, dubbed “Operation Shut Travel Down,” spanned more than a year and resulted in the seizures of ten firearms, more than 3,500 grams of heroin, more than 550 grams of cocaine and crack cocaine, and more than 2,000 grams of methamphetamine. 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).
The investigation resulted in charges against eleven defendants in federal court and more than 40 defendants in state court. Law enforcement officers arrested several of the defendants this morning. Authorities today also executed search warrants at two alleged drug stash houses, including a barbershop in the 900 block of South Western Avenue in Chicago.
The charges were announced by Joel R. Levin, Acting 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; James D. Robnett, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division; and Eddie T. Johnson, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. The United States Marshals Service provided valuable assistance.
The federal complaints describe a narcotics-distribution organization in the North Lawndale neighborhood overseen by members of the Traveling Vice Lords street gang. The organization utilized street-level distributors to sell cocaine and heroin at multiple open-air drug markets near the intersection of California Avenue and Lexington Street, according to the complaints. Traveling Vice Lords members used the barbershop to stash the drugs and facilitate distribution. The barbershop’s owner, TYRONE HUNTER, 38, of Chicago, is a ranking member of the gang who is described in the complaints as a drug supplier and a supervisor of the sales.
The complaints identify the operation’s other supervisor as ANTHONY WILLIAMS, 32, of Chicago. Anthony Williams is a Traveling Vice Lord whom law enforcement observed conducting numerous drug transactions, the complaints state. Anthony Williams also sold narcotics to an undercover officer on multiple occasions during the course of the investigation, according to the complaints.
Also charged in the federal complaints are CALVIN WILLIAMS, 41, of Chicago, a Traveling Vice Lord who oversaw the distribution of cocaine and heroin near the intersection of California Avenue and Harrison Street; and several Traveling Vice Lords who sold cocaine and heroin at street level: DEMETRIUS YANCY, 24, of Chicago; RICKY BROOKS, 39, of Chicago; JEROME CHOICE, 46, of Chicago; TERRANCE BROOKS, 34, of Chicago; and ATKINS WILLIAMS, 53, of Chicago.
In addition, two alleged suppliers of the drugs were also charged in the complaints. SIR CHARLES BLAND, 38, of Bolingbrook, and SALVADOR ROJAS-SANTOS, 63, of Mexico, supplied heroin and cocaine to Williams and Hunter for distribution on the West Side of Chicago, according to the charges.
The eleventh federal defendant, JOHN ANTHONY, 40, of Chicago, distributed heroin to undercover officers in North Lawndale on multiple occasions last year, according to the complaints.
Seven of the federal defendants are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of a controlled substance; two are charged with distribution of a controlled substance; one is charged with possession with intent to distribute, and possession of a weapon by an illegal alien; and one is charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. The federal defendants will begin making initial court appearances this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney I. Schenkier in Chicago.
The state defendants will appear later in Cook County Criminal Court.
The investigation was 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.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago is representing the government in the federal cases. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Matthews of the Violent Crimes Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nani Gilkerson of the Narcotics Section.
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