News Release
October 09, 2009
Contact: Will Taylor
Number: 312-886-2597

Multi-Agency Investigation of Heroin and Crack Cocaine Trafficking Organization Results in Thirteen Federal Indictments

OCT 09 -- October 8, 2009 – (Rockford) A federal grand jury in Rockford, Illinois returned a superseding indictment on October 6, 2009 charging 13 Rockford area residents with federal charges of conspiring to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin and more than 50 grams of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”) throughout Rockford between the summer of 2007 and September 1, 2009. The charges were announced on October 7, 2009 by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois and various law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation.

The indictment alleges that as part of the conspiracy defendants obtained and arranged to obtain large quantities of heroin and powder cocaine from a variety of suppliers in Rockford, Chicago and elsewhere. The indictment further alleges that as part of the conspiracy defendants cooked powder cocaine into cocaine base in the form of crack cocaine. The indictment also alleges that as part of the conspiracy defendants sold heroin and crack cocaine at numerous distribution sites in Rockford, Illinois, utilizing “runners” who would sell street-level quantities of heroin and crack cocaine at the numerous locations throughout Rockford, Illinois.

Those charged in the superseding indictment are:

HOLLIS O. DANIELS, 33, also known as “Duck”;
KENNETH L. BLOCK, 37, also known as “Puppet”;
KENNETH D. TOWNSEND, 22, also known as “Bam”;
JOHN KNOX, 36, also known as “Jigga”;
JAMEL GREGORY, 30, also known as “Mello”;
NATHANIEL CLAY, 39, also known as “Plug”;
CHARLES GARY, 32, also known as “Do Dirty”;
SAMUEL SMITH, 39, also known as “Crunch”;
ANDREW ETHERIDGE, 30, also known as “Drew”

If convicted of this offense, each defendant faces a minimum term of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum term of life imprisonment. In addition, each defendant could be fined up to $4,000,000. If convicted, each defendant’s actual sentence will be determined by the United States District Court, guided by the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Defendants sentenced in federal court are not eligible for parole.

Five of the defendants - Daniels, Block, Townsend, Knox, and Gregory - were charged in federal court by indictment on September 9, 2009 with conspiring to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin. Each of those defendants pleaded not guilty to that charge and remains in federal custody while the case is pending. The superseding indictment adds 8 additional defendants, adds crack cocaine as one of the objects of the conspiracy, adds 6 separate counts against defendants Davis, Clay, Peeples, Etheridge, Eison, and Sims for possessing heroin with the intent to distribute it; adds 1 count against defendant Peeples for distributing heroin; adds 1 count against defendant Gary for possessing crack cocaine with the intent to distribute it; and adds 1 count against Eison and Sims for using a residence to manufacture and store heroin.

In addition to the federal charges, other individuals have been charged with various drug offenses in state court. Charging decisions were made in coordination with Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joseph Bruscato.

"This indictment is the culmination of local, state, and federal law enforcement resources joining together to target a group responsible for pushing heroin and crack cocaine into the streets of Rockford," stated Stephen A. Luzinski, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the DEA's Chicago Field Division, which covers the area of Rockford. "The DEA Rockford office is fortunate to work side by side with our law enforcement partners who are truly dedicated not only to rid Rockford neighborhoods of individuals selling illegal drugs, but also exposing the organization providing the drugs to those dealers."

This investigation was the result of the cooperative efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office; Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office; Drug Enforcement Administration; Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Illinois State Police, Stateline Area Narcotics Team; Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office; and the Rockford Police Department. The case will be prosecuted in federal court by Assistant United States Attorneys Mark T. Karner and Joseph E. Pedersen.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment is only an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government will have the burden of proving his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.