An investigation of an illegal drug trafficking operation on Chicago's West Side has led to federal charges against 24 purported gang members as well as the seizure of more than 30 guns and more than $1.3 million in cash, authorities said Friday.
The U.S. Department of Justice said “Operation Wicked Stones” revealed a drug trafficking operation in which two violent Chicago street gangs cooperated to distribute wholesale quantities of drugs and launder money. Among those charged were two suspected gang members who were already charged in a murder-for-hire conspiracy in which one person was killed in 2018.
The investigation was conducted by the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which is made up of investigators with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. It was focused on the activities of alleged high-ranking members of the Traveling Vice Lords and the Black P-Stone Nation.
Drugs seized included 6.7 kilograms of heroin, 17 kilograms of cocaine, 200 pounds of marijuana and more than a kilogram of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Among those arrested was James Harris, 51, of the south suburb of Berkeley, who was allegedly with another suspect trying to purchase 322 grams of heroin while he was wearing a Chicago Transit Authority uniform.
It wasn't immediately known if Harris had a lawyer in the case.
A news conference was planned Friday with U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr., Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown and the leaders the Chicago offices of the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.