Eight Defendants Charged With Distributing Heroin In Chicago Area On Behalf Of Guerrero Unidos Mexican Drug Cartel
CHICAGO - ―An Aurora man who allegedly led the Chicago area cell of the Guerrero Unidos Mexican drug trafficking cartel is among eight defendants who are facing federal narcotics charges here for their alleged roles in distributing kilogram quantities of heroin, federal law enforcement officials announced today. The investigation, led by the Chicago DEA, resulted in the seizure of approximately 68 kilograms of heroin, nine kilograms of cocaine, and more than $500,000 in cash since August 2013.
The alleged cell leader, Pablo Vega Cuevas, 40, and his brother-in-law, Alexander Figueroa, 37, both of Aurora, were arrested yesterday morning in southeast Oklahoma, and three other defendants were arrested in the Chicago area. Arrest warrants were issued for three additional defendants, including one who is believed to be in Mexico. Also yesterday, DEA agents and local police seized several automobiles and executed four federal search warrants at residences in Aurora, Chicago, and Rockford, as well as at a business tied to Vega, Salude Bienstar, in Aurora.
According to a 131-page complaint affidavit unsealed yesterday, Vega worked with various narcotics sources in Mexico to import wholesale amounts of heroin and cocaine from Mexico to Illinois, often concealing the narcotics in commercial passenger buses that traveled from Mexico to Chicago. Vega’s organization stored drugs at warehouses in Aurora and Batavia, distributed drugs to wholesale customers, and collected cash proceeds on behalf of the Guerrero Unidos, the charges allege.
“This operation strikes at a major Mexican drug trafficking organization that is alleged to have routinely distributed large quantities of heroin and cocaine throughout the Midwest,” said Dennis Wichern, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “These arrests will have a significant impact on the supply and distribution of heroin and cocaine in the Chicago area,” he said.
Vega and Figueroa appeared yesterday in Federal Court in Oklahoma and were ordered transferred to Chicago in custody. Arrested in the Chicago area yesterday were: Eliseo Betancourt Pereira, 50, of Aurora; Roberto Sanchez, 39, of Chicago; and Isaias Mandujano, 29, of Rockford. Those three appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney I. Schenkier and remain in federal custody pending detention hearings that were scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
Arrest warrants remain outstanding for: Wilfredo Flores-Santos, 43, of North Aurora; Jose Rodriguez, 31, of Chicago; and Arturo Martinez, 33 or 34, who is believed to be in Mexico.
According to the complaint affidavit, on Aug. 21, 2013, law enforcement officers discovered and seized approximately $200,000 in cash during a traffic stop of an individual in Chicago. A subsequent search of the individual’s residence yielded 12 kilograms of heroin and nine kilograms of cocaine, as well as an additional $231,000, all of which the individual had delivered and picked up on behalf of a courier for Vega’s organization. On June 7 of this year, approximately 25 kilograms of heroin and 60 grams of cocaine were seized from Rodriguez after Figueroa and Betancourt allegedly distributed the heroin to him. Three days later, approximately 31 kilograms of heroin were seized from another individual allegedly supplied by Figueroa and Betancourt.
All of the defendants except Mandujano were charged with conspiring between August 2013 and November of this year to possess and distribute a kilogram or more of heroin. The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison and a $10 million fine. Mandujano was charged with possession with intent to distribute 100 grams of more of heroin in April of this year, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison and $5 million fine. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The arrests and charges were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Mr. Wichern, of the DEA. Police departments in Aurora, North Aurora, Addison, Arlington Heights, Chicago, Oak Lawn, Oswego, and Prospect Heights assisted in the investigation, as well as the Cook County Sheriff’s Police and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. The investigation was conducted under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task (OCDETF).
The government is being represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Nicole Kim and Georgia Alexakis.