For Immediate Release
More than a Dozen Defendants Charged in Federal Drug Probe on West Side of Chicago
CHICAGO — More than a dozen individuals, including the owner of an auto body shop where drugs were stashed, are facing criminal charges as part of a federal investigation into drug trafficking on the West Side of Chicago.
The investigation, dubbed "Operation Broken Roe," centered on drug sales in the city’s Little Village and West Garfield Park neighborhoods, and resulted in the seizure of distribution quantities of heroin, fentanyl, MDMA pills and cocaine. Authorities also seized 12 illegal firearms, including an assault rifle, and nearly $60,000 in narcotics proceeds.
One of the defendants publicly advertised the sale of MDMA pills – commonly known as ecstasy – on social media. His Instagram posting displayed a photo of dozens of pills, alongside a telephone number. Another defendant owned an auto body shop where illegal narcotics were mixed, packaged and stored.
The probe was conducted under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of OCDETF is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations.
Criminal complaints and affidavits filed in federal court in Chicago charge 14 defendants with various drug offenses. Several of the defendants were arrested Wednesday. Detention hearings will be held on April 24, 2018, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole. Five other defendants were charged in state complaints and will appear at a later time in Cook County Criminal Court.
The federal charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Eddie Johnson, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department; and Celinez Nunez, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Chicago Field Office, provided valuable assistance.
According to the charges, JONATHAN REYNA, 25, of Berwyn, and MARCO MENDOZA, 24, of Lyons, operated a drug trafficking organization that distributed heroin and fentanyl in the Chicago area. COREY BENSON, 23, of Chicago, participated in the organization by regularly distributing Reyna’s and Mendoza’s narcotics and collecting payment from customers, according to the charges. ANTON COLE, 23, of Chicago,ANTON LITTLEJR., 20, of Chicago, and DEVONTAY JOHNSON, 26, of Chicago, worked with Benson to distribute heroin to customers. PRINCE BRUNT, 36, of Chicago, who owns the auto body shop in the 3300 block of West Cermak Road in Chicago, participated in the organization by permitting Benson to manufacture and store narcotics at the shop, according to the charges. LARRY JONES, 55, of Chicago, and COMMANDER WHITE, 27, of Chicago, also distributed Reyna’s and Mendoza’s narcotics, the complaint states.
Undercover law enforcement officerspurchased various quantities of heroin and MDMA pills from Johnson in the summer and fall of 2017, the complaints state. The purchases occurred near a residence in the 4300 block of West Wilcox Street in Chicago, where NATASHA SUMMERVILLE, 30, of Chicago,maintained a drug stash house, the charges allege. It was Johnson – using the profile name deadendboi_vtay – who publicly posted the photo of the MDMA pills on Instagram, the complaint states. Johnson’s sources for the pills were MAURICE CARROLL, 28, of Chicago, and HENRY MERRILL, 31, of Chicago, the charges allege.
The public is reminded that a complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elizabeth R. Pozolo and Aaron R. Bond are representing the government.