Nineteen Chicago-area men, many suspected members or associates of the of the Imperial Gangsters street gang, were arrested yesterday by FBI special agents and Chicago Police officers assigned to the FBI’s Joint Task Force on Gangs, culminating a nearly three-year long investigation that targeted illicit drug and firearms sales in and around the Humboldt park area on Chicago’s near northwest side.
Yesterday’s arrests were announced by Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who was joined by Garry F. McCarthy, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD); Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s Attorney; Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General; and Michael Witz, Chief of the Franklin Park Police Department.
Some of the charges were contained in 12 separate criminal complaints filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, which were unsealed yesterday and which charged 13 current or former Chicago-area residents with distribution of a controlled substance or violating federal firearms laws. Six others were charged with violating state drug or firearms laws in charges filed in Cook County and Whiteside County Circuit Court.
According to the federal complaints, between December 2009 and May 2012, eight defendants identified below intentionally distributed a controlled substance, either cocaine or heroin, in amounts ranging from 28 to 62 grams. Five others, also identified below and all of whom have prior felony convictions, are alleged to have possessed various makes and models of firearms, both handguns and assault type rifles between December 2009 and November 2011.
The investigation leading to the charges announced today was conducted by the Chicago FBI’s Joint Task Force on Gangs, which is comprised of FBI special agents and officers from the Chicago Police Department. Officers from the Franklin Park Police Department and the Sterling Police Department also assisted. The charges announced today are part of an ongoing and coordinated effort by the FBI and CPD’s Organized Crime Bureau and Gang Investigations Division to identify those responsible for supplying illicit drugs and firearms to Chicago’s criminal element, which are often used in street violence.
Investigators made extensive use of undercover and controlled purchases of illegal narcotics and firearms and court-authorized electronic surveillance of telephones utilized by some of the defendants in this case, both of which helped lead to the filing of the charges announced today. During the course of the investigation, over a kilogram of crack cocaine, over 250 grams of powder cocaine and approximately 125 grams of heroin were recovered. In addition, 31 firearms, approximately $4,000 in cash and three vehicles were seized.
In announcing the charges, Mr. Grant reaffirmed a commitment to investigate and prosecute those who engage in activities that threaten our communities. “Yesterday’s arrests should serve as a warning to those who persist in endangering our communities through the sale of drugs and guns. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to find you, to hold you accountable, and to make our neighborhoods safe for the many innocent residents who often pay a huge price for the acts of a few.”
“The street gang targeted in this mission is a violent, organized criminal organization with a history of violence in our city, including the shooting of a Chicago Police officer,” said Superintendent McCarthy. “This investigation especially highlights the entrenched relationship between gangs, guns, and drugs, and demonstrates that the Chicago Police and our federal law enforcement partners are committed to confronting and eradicating the problem,” he added.
Regarding the combined efforts that led to the charges, Attorney General Madigan said, “These arrests demonstrate how effective coordination between law enforcement agencies at all levels can produce significant results in fighting drug dealing and gang activity.”
Those arrested yesterday who were charged with violating federal drug laws are identified as:
■Victor Arroyo, age 30, 2333 North Ashland, Chicago
■Richard Cruz, age 29, 2831 North Kostner, Chicago
■Jose Hernandez, age 40, 4351 West Palmer, Chicago
■Faisal Khan, age 26, 2202 North Rockwell, Chicago
■Oscar Montanez, age 33, 2710 South Lombard, Berwyn
■Rogelio Perez, age 37, 4840 West Henderson, Chicago
■Sergio Sanchez, age 25, 1643 North Parkside, Chicago
■Lawrence Wade, age 41, 0 South 041 Page Street, Winfield
Those arrested yesterday who were charged federally with felon-in-possession of a firearm are identified as:
■Jaime Corral, age 32, 880 Joyce, Leyden Township
■Lazaro Corral, age 29, 920 North Roberta Avenue, Melrose Park
■Martin Murillo, age 29, 2433 West Arthington, Chicago
■Miguel Pedraza, age 30, 1935 North Central Park Avenue, Chicago
■Ismael Velasquez, 31, 2139 North Keystone, Chicago
Those arrested on state charges are identified as:
■Julio Collaza, age 42, 5918 West Waveland, Chicago
■Craig Hartman, age 26, 1507 East 14th Street, Sterling
■Elvis Lebron, age 39, 2528 N. Linder, Chicago
■Ramon Marrero, age 31, 4321 South Paulina, Chicago
■Catalino Soto, age 55, 5729 South Trumbull, Chicago
■Francisco Wolf, age 32, 23 King Arthur Court, Northlake
Those arrested on federal charges appeared yesterday before Magistrate Judge Nan R. Nolan in Chicago, at which time they were formally charged. All were ordered held until their next scheduled court appearances. If convicted, those charged with possession of on excess of 50 grams of crack cocaine face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ incarceration; those charged with possession of in excess of five grams of crack cocaine face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years’ incarceration; and those charged with felon-in-possession of a firearm face a possible sentence of up to 10 years’ incarceration.
Those arrested on state charges were scheduled to appear in bond court at dates and times to be determined. If convicted, they face possible sentences of up to 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.