Thirteen alleged members of two drug distribution rings were arrested Tuesday by a federal task force in the culmination of a lengthy investigation into drug distribution in the south suburbs.
They charged 12 area residents with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of heroin. Four others were charged with violating state drug laws in charges filed in Cook and Will counties. Three additional defendants remain at-large and are now the subject of a nationwide manhunt, the release said.
According to one of the complaints, Jose Sandoval, 30, of the 2100 block of East 221st Street, in Sauk Village, supplied wholesale quantities of heroin to Nicholas Lacy, aka "Pork", 32, of the 21500 block of Peterson Avenue, in Sauk Village. Lacy allegedly controlled a drug distribution operation based in Robbins.
The complaint alleges Sandoval routinely provided half-pound and greater quantities of heroin to Lacy, who would re-package the drugs in individual user quantities, usually 0.1 gram bags, which were sold in and around 138th and Kedvale in Robbins.
The complaint alleges Lacy’s drug ring operated seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., selling as much as $3,000 worth of heroin daily.
The second complaint charges 31-year-old Eric Ridgner, aka "Torry," of the 3400 block of Orchid Drive, in Dyer, Ind., with running a similar heroin distribution ring, which operated in Harvey.
Ridgner was allegedly supplied wholesale amounts of heroin by Lacy, which he re-packaged and sold in individual user amounts, usually in 0.1 gram bags and sold on the streets of the south suburb.
FBI SPecial Agent-in-Charge Robert Grant said the use of heroin has reached unprecedented levels in the Chicago area.
"The key targets of this investigation were major suppliers of drugs that not only destroyed lives, but destroyed neighborhoods -- and most often, not neighborhoods where they lived," Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said in the release.
"The tentacles of their operations stretched from the most impoverished street corners to suburban luxury subdivisions. It takes years of hard work to disrupt a distribution network that complex, but we’re under no illusions that the activity has simply stopped," Dart said.
Others charged in the federal complaints included:
- Marcus Gillespie, 21, of the 14800 block of Edbrook Avenue, in Dolton;
- Candice Jeffries, 23, of the 15800 block of Lexington Avenue, in Harvey;
- Michael Knight, 44, of the 16000 block of S. Halsted Street, in Harvey;
- Chuanice Loving, 28, of the 20100 block of Ash Lane, in Lynwood;
- Resean Ridgner, 24, of the 16200 block of S. Ashland Avenue, in Markham;
- Desmond Scott, 20, of the 4100 block of W. 138th Street., in Robbins;
- Lawrence Scott, 30, of the 13700 block of Kildare Avenue, in Midlothian;
- Derrick Thigpen, 23, of the 4100 block of W. Midlothian Turnpike, in Robbins;
- Cheronda Wallace, 24, of the 200 block of E. 175th Street., in Lansing.
Marcus Gillespie, Resean Ridgner and Desmond Scott eluded capture and remain at-large.
Those arrested on state charges were Mildred Gassensmith, 31, of the 900 block of Campbell, in Joliet; Neil Lester, 30, of the 16600 block of Beacon Ln., in Orland Park; Alexander Lys, 18, of the 500 block of Carla Dr., in Shorewood; and William Woods, 26, of the 16900 block of Blue Heron Dr., in Orland Park.
"Operation J Down" was investigated by the Chicago FBI’s South Suburban Violent Crimes Task Force, which is comprised of FBI Special Agents and investigators from the Cook County Sheriff’s Dept., and the Joliet and Orland Park police.
Court-authorized electronic surveillance of several phones used by the defendants were used during the investigation, which yielded nearly 500 individual packets of heroin and in excess of $200,000 in cash, the release said.
All those arrested on federal charges appeared before Magistrate Judge Geraldine Soat Brown in Chicago late Tuesday. Six were granted bond, while three were ordered held without bond, pending their next court appearances Friday.
If convicted, they face up to life in prison.