Investigators said Thursday they've broken up an open air drug market on the West Side run by a faction of the Gangster Disciples for decades.
Police say the alleged kingpin of the operation, 55-year-old Johnny Herndon, amassed a fortune operating in the 4500 block of West Jackson.
Herndon, who's known on the street as "Goo," faces multiple felony drug charges, along with 34 other individuals.
"Yesterday, it was operational, today it is gone," U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said.
Although Herndon lived relatively modestly in a three-story building on West Jackson, investigators say he invested heavily in real estate, selling a building near 47th and Michigan for more than $1 million and renting out other unit to Section 8 tenants.
"They were acquired mortgage free, which is to say they were bought with cash," Fardon said.
Investigators say a Cermak Avenue car wash was a prime dealing location. Drugs were stashed and cooked at a house on West Adams and heroin was stored in a building in the 700 block of Kostner.
There are no direct claims that any outstanding murders were solved through the arrests, but investigators say violence in this type of operation is commonplace.
"We took 16 guns off the street, we took a lot of dope off the street and we've got a lot of folks in custody," Fardon said.
Investigators say Herndon's crew was selling 540 rocks of crack cocaine a day for $10 each and his purported legitimate real estate business was pulling in $20,000 a month.
If convicted, Herndom could face between 10 years to life in prison.