25-plus Chicago defendants face drug charges for alleged fentanyl or fentanyl-laced heroin sales
CHICAGO - More than 25 individuals are facing federal or state drug charges for allegedly selling pure fentanyl or fentanyl-laced heroin in Chicago.
Many of the defendants sold narcotics to an undercover law enforcement officer earlier this year, according to the charges. Several of the sales occurred in daytime hours during the summer months. The federal charges describe drug sales in the Tri-Taylor, Humboldt Park and West Garfield Park neighborhoods on Chicago’s West Side, as well as deals in the Chatham neighborhood on the city’s South Side.
The investigation was led by the Chicago Police Department, with support from agents from numerous federal agencies assigned to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Marshals Service. In addition to the undercover work, law enforcement during the investigation conducted extensive surveillance and seized distribution quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl-laced heroin.
Seven defendants were charged in federal court, while 22 defendants were charged in state court. Many of the defendants were arrested Thursday. The federal defendants have begun making initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Chicago, while the state defendants will appear in Cook County Criminal Court.
The charges were announced by Brian McKnight, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the DEA; John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Kimberly M. Foxx, Cook County State’s Attorney; Eddie Johnson, Chicago Police Superintendent; and Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI. Substantial assistance was provided by the Illinois State Police.
“These arrests help tackle our city’s most serious drug threat – fentanyl,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge McKnight. “For those who want to put poison on our streets, we are not done with you.”
“These arrests send a clear message that anyone who sells fentanyl on the streets of Chicago will endure the full weight of law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to focus its efforts on individuals and groups who distribute fentanyl – a dangerously potent drug – and prosecute those offenders in federal court.”
“We’ve seen the devastation that drugs – especially fentanyl – leave on an individual, their family and our communities,” said State’s Attorney Foxx. “These charges are a step in the right direction as we send a message that fentanyl has no place on our streets. My office is committed to holding anyone responsible for this harmful substance accountable and will continue working with our federal and local partners to do so.”
“The sale and use of these substances has affected more than just the individual using them,” said CPD Supt. Johnson. “It has left multiple scars on some of our communities. CPD will continue to work with our federal and state partners to do everything we can to make our streets safer and to save lives in the process.”
“The results of these investigations show the powerful impact law enforcement can have when we work as one team to combat the lethal threat fentanyl poses to our communities,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Sallet.
According to the federal complaints, Anthony McClendon, 38, of Chicago sold more than three grams of pure fentanyl to an undercover officer on May 18, 2018. The deal allegedly occurred on the street in the 1000 block of South Western Avenue in Chicago. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Chester Choi represents the government in McClendon’s case.
Antron Binion, 48, of Chicago sold at least four grams of fentanyl-laced heroin over five separate deals this summer, the complaint states. The deals allegedly occurred at various locations in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood, including a transaction on a ramp leading to a pedestrian bridge over the Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway. Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron R. Bond represents the government in Binion’s case.
Vance Estes, 34, of Chicago, sold more than a gram of fentanyl-laced heroin and more than a gram of heroin in two separate deals in July, the complaint states. The deals allegedly occurred as Estes sat in his vehicle in the 9100 block of South Wabash Avenue in Chicago. Alejandro Junco, 27, of Chicago, also sold distribution levels of fentanyl-laced heroin in the same block in July, the complaint states. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew J. Dixon and John D. Mitchell represent the government in the Junco and Estes cases.
James Alexander, 34, of Chicago, Kenyon Savage, 24, of Chicago, and LaShawn Banks, 20, of Chicago, each sold distribution levels of fentanyl-laced heroin in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood this summer, the complaints state. The government is represented in the Alexander case by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen Viglione; in the Savage case by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kalia Coleman; and in the Banks case by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Jodrey.
The public is reminded that charges contain only accusations and are 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. The federal drug distribution charge is punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. If convicted of the federal charge, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.