News Release
October 27, 2009
Contact: Will Taylor
Number: 312-886-2597

One of the Largest Heroin Seizures in Cook County History Leads
to Multiple Arrests

OCT 27 -- (Chicago) On Tuesday October 20, 2009, six defendants were arrested as part of “Operation Copperhead”, a six month long investigation that includes a total of 10 arrests. The investigation focused on groups of individuals that allegedly imported large amounts of cocaine and heroin from Mexico to the Chicago area. Along with the six defendants that were arrested on October 20, 2009, 35 kilograms of heroin and 16 kilograms of cocaine were seized. One kilogram is equal to 2.2 pounds. According to the Cook County State’s Attorney Office, the seizure has a combined street value of $8,760,000. Additionally, the 35 kilograms of heroin seized is one of the largest heroin seizures in Cook County history.

Arrested Tuesday were Jose Gamez, 27, of Blue Island; Luis Gamez, 23, of Markham; Jose Ruiz, 22, of Chicago; and Luis Martinez, 22, of Chicago. The defendants have been charged by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office with a combination of criminal drug conspiracy and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and are facing up to 60 years in prison if convicted. Two other individuals, Dennis Campbell, 31, of Chicago, and Felix Villasenor, 29, of Evergreen Park were also arrested as part of the investigation.

Previously charged in this investigation was Sandra Cardona, 22 of Chicago; Francisco Verdin, 45, of Chicago; Edwardo Verdin, 40 of Chicago; and Charlie Brown, 40 of Chicago.

During the investigation, authorities identified two drug distribution rings operating in the Chicago area. Investigators learned that one of the drug rings, consisting of Jose and Luis Gamez, Luis Martinez, and Jose Ruiz, were allegedly expecting a delivery of drugs to Martinez’ residence on the south-side of Chicago. Authorities subsequently seized the heroin and cocaine, and made the above arrests.

"Law enforcement has struck a severe blow to the availability of heroin in the Chicago area," stated Stephen A. Luzinski, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the DEA's Chicago Field Division. "The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has been an instrumental partner in targeting and prosecuting these individuals. With the help and dedication of our law enforcement partners, we will continue to put drug dealers out of business."

The investigation was the result of cooperation between the Drug Enforcement Administration, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Cook County State's Attorney Investigations Bureau, Chicago Police Department, Chicago Heights Police Department, Will County Sheriff's Department, Willow Springs Police Department, South Holland Police Department, Westchester Police Department, Blue Island Police Department, Evergreen Park Police Department, Summit Police Department, Prospect Heights Police Department, and Palos Hills Police Department.

Cook County State’s Attorneys Bronwyn Sears and Daniel Maloney represent the State of Illinois in the prosecution of the above defendants.

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