Seven Charged In Major DEA-Led Drug Trafficking Investigation in Chicago
June 4 (Chicago) – Six of seven alleged members of a drug trafficking organization (DTO) involving Mexican nationals, with direct ties to Mexico were arrested Monday, May 21st . The arrests are the result of a DEA-led investigation of heroin-trafficking, in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. DEA agents from both the Chicago Field Division and the Miami Field Division, together with task force officers from several local police departments and other authorities, arrested six men in connection with an investigation that began several months ago. A seventh individual has been charged, but has not yet been arrested.
In connection with the arrests and immediately following, agents seized a total of 20 kilograms of heroin, approximately $1.4 million, 18 weapons and jewelry, including a super bowl ring from the 2010 Green Bay Packers football team that was previously reported stolen by a team executive. Combined with previous activity in this investigation, 14 individuals have been charged and 35.5 kilograms of heroin, 21.5 kilograms of cocaine, 21 weapons including several assault rifles, and over $2.8 million have been seized.
The arrests and charges were announced today by Jack Riley, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Chicago Field Division, and Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. The investigation was conducted under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).
“This indictment is the result of a complex investigation by DEA and our law enforcement partners,” stated Mr. Riley. “These charges show that law enforcement can make significant inroads into drug trafficking organizations and that the major players are not immune from prosecution.”
Also participating in this investigation were the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Investigations Unit, Will County Sheriff’s Police Department, South Holland Police Department, Willow Springs Police Department and the Waukegan Police Department, Belvidere Police Department and the Des Plaines Fire Department.
The investigation involved the use of court-authorized electronic surveillance on various telephones, and extensive physical surveillance. The federal complaint traces the movement of heroin on two separate occasions. According to the complaint affidavit, on April 7, 2012, Gerardo Baltazar-Lujano, working at the direction of Pedro Salas and Sergio Baltazar Lujano, distributed 10 kilograms of heroin to Ester Carrera, who was working at the direction of her son Jesus Fuentes. Shortly after the distribution that day, law enforcement seized the 10 kilograms of heroin from Ester Carrera, during a traffic stop.
During one intercepted call that took place after the seizure, Fuentes allegedly told Salas that no one ever played him like that, except one time and that individual is gone, indicating that Fuentes killed the person or had him killed. In a separate call, the complaint states Fuentes told Salas, “Your boys all going on a lie detector machine. I’m finna line it all up.” And in another call, Fuentes said, “We’re going to find out who the [expletive] liar is and they working with the [expletive] police with that [expletive]. They got my mother in [expletive] jail, because I will kill every [expletive] body…” Fuentes later told Salas, “I want pictures of your homies that are with you so I can feel them out. I need to sit down with them and I want to know what the [expletive] is. I want to see their faces; I need pictures of their faces so I can figure out what’s what,” according to the complaint.
According to information in a separate affidavit, on May 12, 2012, Anthony Santiago delivered one kilogram of heroin to Jason Hill. The heroin was seized by DEA, however Hill remains at large.
Pedro Salas, also known as “Tony” or “Bebe,” 21, of Belvidere, Illinois/Salem, Oregon; Jesus Fuentes, also known as “Pepe,” 37, of Gary; Sergio Baltazar-Lujano, also known as “Gansito” or “Primo,” 27, of Chicago; Gerardo Baltazar-Lujano, also known as “Primo,” 25, of Chicago and Ester Carrera, 59, of Gary were charged with conspiracy to knowingly possess with intent to distribute heroin, in a complaint that was filed Tuesday, May 22nd in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Anthony Santiago, also known as “Titi,” 38, of Des Plaines and Jason Hill, 40, of Chicago were also charged with conspiracy to knowingly possess with intent to distribute heroin, in a separate complaint that was also filed Tuesday. All six of the defendants remain in federal custody pending further proceedings before United States Magistrate Judge Geraldine Soat Brown.
Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, heroin, carries a 10-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment and a maximum penalty of life, as well as a maximum fine of $10 million. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Madden and Anthony Garcia.
The public is reminded that a complaint contains only charges and is 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.