An operation jointly led by the DEA and FBI resulted in the arrest of over a dozen individuals on federal narcotics charges for their alleged roles in distributing cocaine, heroin and fentanyl on Chicago’s Northwest Side and western suburbs.
The federal investigation spanned more than two years and resulted in the seizures of approximately 52 kilograms of cocaine, 45 kilograms of heroin, more than 13 kilograms of fentanyl, and a pound of methamphetamines.
Thirteen defendants are charged with various narcotics offenses in federal court in Chicago. Five of the defendants were arrested Wednesday, while five others were arrested earlier this year. Three defendants are considered fugitives and are being sought by law enforcement.
Authorities used extensive undercover surveillance to uncover the alleged criminal activities. The probe was conducted under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Chicago Strike Force.
Since 2015, law enforcement has been investigating drug trafficking activities on the city’s Northwest Side and western suburbs. The investigation uncovered numerous illegal drug transactions, including the distribution of three kilograms of cocaine on a street in Melrose Park, and the distribution of five kilograms of fentanyl at a gas station in Aurora.
The investigation revealed that 45-year-old Aurelio Abrego and 54-year-old Jose Miguel Perez, both from Chicago, worked together to obtain wholesale quantities of cocaine and heroin from others, and distributed the drugs to wholesale customers. The pair received the drugs from, among others, 49-year-old Javier Moreno and 28-year-old Richard Alvarado, also from Chicago, for distribution to Abrego’s and Perez’s customers.
51-year-old Fernelly Llanos and 28-year-old Pedro Saavedra-Fitz served as brokers, supplying smaller distribution quantities of the narcotics to wholesale customers on credit – a practice known as “fronting” – and collected proceeds after the customers sold the narcotics, the charges state. The complaints identify one of the wholesale customers as 30-year-old Fernando Gomez.
The complaint describes several drug transactions on the Northwest Side of Chicago. On July 17, 2015, Abrego and Perez distributed a kilogram of heroin to a customer of Saavedra-Fitz, the complaint states. At the time, a kilogram of heroin retailed in the Chicago area for approximately $49,000 to $54,000, the complaint states. On September 29, 2015, Abrego allegedly distributed a kilogram of heroin to Llanos during a meeting in an alley in the Belmont Gardens neighborhood of Chicago. Authorities later seized the heroin after Llanos distributed it to another individual, according to the charges.
Abrego, Perez, Alvarado, Gomez and Llanos were arrested Wednesday on charges of drug distribution. U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael T. Mason scheduled detention hearings for July 28, 2017, August 1, 2017, and August 2, 2017.
Four defendants were charged in May and are awaiting trial on drug distribution charges. One defendant, 40-year-old Carlos Fuentes was charged in an indictment with drug distribution. Fuentes, who remains in federal custody since his arrest in January, has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
Saavedra-Fitz and Moreno are considered fugitives, as is 41-year-old Rolando Estrada. The three are facing drug distribution charges and are being sought by law enforcement.
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