Federal and International, Law and Order

Twelve Defendants Charged in Federal Drug Trafficking Probe

Probe Targeted Fentanyl-Laced Heroin and Cocaine Sales in Chicago

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- A federal drug trafficking investigation resulted in charges against a dozen individuals. These 12 allegedly trafficked fentanyl-laced heroin, cocaine, or other drugs on the South Side of Chicago.

The multi-year investigation was led by the FBI Chicago Field Office. It utilized numerous controlled narcotics purchases, covert surveillance operations, and wiretapped communications to shut down two separate drug trafficking operations.  Some defendants allegedly supplied or sought to provide drugs to customers in other states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ohio.  One of the defendants reportedly possessed a loaded semiautomatic handgun while engaged in his drug trafficking activities. 

During the investigation, law enforcement seized nearly $400,000 in suspected illicit cash proceeds. They seized distribution quantities of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, Bentley and Mercedes-Benz automobiles, and a custom-built motorcycle.

Initial Appearances in Court

Officials arrested most defendants Friday or early this week. They began making initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Law enforcement also recently executed court-authorized searches of multiple locations in Chicago. 

Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, announced the charges and arrests. With him was Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. Also, Robert W. “Wes” Wheeler, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI joined. Fred Waller, Interim Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department also participated.  Valuable assistance was provided by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Rock County (Wisc.) Sheriff’s Office, and the Indiana State Police.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Saurish Appleby-Bhattacharjee and Thomas P. Peabody of the Northern District of Illinois and Trial Attorney Gerald A.A. Collins of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Gang Section represent the government.

The case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force operation.  OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles drug trafficking organizations and other criminal networks. It targets networks that threaten the United States. OCDETF uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local enforcement agencies.

Criminal complaints unsealed in federal court in Chicago charge two separate drug trafficking organizations. They also charge an individual who allegedly distributed cocaine.

U.S. v. Johnson, et al, 23 CR 412

Charged in this federal drug conspiracy are RONALD JOHNSON, 57, of Darien, Ill. Also charged is SULSTINE BROWN ROBINSON, 69, of Chicago, CHARLES LAWRENCE, 48, of Chicago, and DARRELL JONES, 58, of Chicago.  Officials also charged Lawrence with possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking activities.

Officials charged TROY BONAPARTE, 58, of Chicago, with possessing cocaine and marijuana with the intent to distribute.

The charges allege that Johnson is a large-scale supplier of multiple narcotics, including cocaine and marijuana.  Law enforcement observed Johnson making several cocaine sales in the summer and fall of 2022, the complaint states.  The conspirators allegedly utilized an apartment in Chicago’s Oakland neighborhood as a “stash house” to store narcotics and cash.  During a meeting outside the stash house in December 2022, Johnson allegedly provided a woman with approximately $300,500 in suspected drug proceeds.  The complaint states that the money was stuffed into a duffel bag that law enforcement later seized from the woman.

In January 2023, law enforcement in Rock County, Wisc., stopped a vehicle Robinson was driving. They discovered she had transported approximately seven kilograms of suspected cocaine from Chicago.  The complaint states that law enforcement seized the drugs. The drugs were packaged in six individual bricks and wrapped in green cellophane.

U.S. v. Donley, et al., 23 CR 413

Charged in this federal drug conspiracy are DEREK DONLEY, 29, KENDALL BANKS, 31, NIGER GRAY, 25, JAMARI MC NEAL, 29, and APRIL THOMAS, 60, all of Chicago. 

BYRON MURPHY, 39, of Chicago, is charged with distributing fentanyl-laced heroin.

According to the charges, the conspirators distributed and intended to distribute fentanyl-laced heroin, cocaine, and marijuana on the South Side of Chicago.  Donley allegedly conducted several drug deals in the 7700 block of South Yates Boulevard in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood.  One of the alleged deals occurred in April 2022 and involved the distribution by Donley to Mc Neal of approximately 100 grams of substances that later tested positive for fentanyl, the complaint states.

U.S. v. Toney, 23 CR 424

Charged with distributing cocaine is CHANTELL TONEY, 37, of Chicago.  Toney allegedly sold crack cocaine on the South Side of Chicago several times in 2022 and 2023.  The complaint states that one of the deals occurred last month in an apartment in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood.

Presumption of Innocence

The public is reminded that complaints contain only charges, not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.