Men from Lemont, Joliet, New Lenox and Orland Hills are among 43 suspected members or associates of the Latin Kings gang charged Sept. 13 in relation to a two-year-old federal narcotics investigation initiated by the Joliet Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad together with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Those charged for their alleged involvement in drug trafficking included residents of Joliet, Lemont, Orland Hills, Chicago, Burbank, South Holland, Berwyn, Cicero and Summit along with one from St. Paul, MN, and another from Mexico.
Police say the gang was operating in Chicago and numerous south suburbs, including Bolingbrook, Lemont, Joliet, New Lenox and Orland Hills.
New Lenox resident Andres Garcia, 37, whose charges relate to his alleged role as one of two suppliers of 5-plus kilograms of cocaine, remains at large.
However, Assistant U.S. States Attorney Tiffany Tracy, of the U.S. Department of Justice, said, "We have every confidence that he will be apprehended soon."
All but four of the 43 charged as a result of the drug trafficking investigation have been arrested. Only one posted bond and the rest are housed at federal corrections facilities in Chicago or Kankakee, Tracy said.
The arrests stem from charges in connection with supplying or distributing "multi-kilogram quantities of heroin, cocaine and marijuana in Chicago and the South suburbs," according to an ATF press release.
A total of 26 were arrested on federal complaints, and 17 arrests pertain to state charges relating to heroin, cocaine and marijuana that have been seized along with cash and firearms. According to the release, the state charges are in connection with incidents in Will and Cook counties.
On Thursday, police seized an "undetermined amount of cash and 13 firearms, including five long-barreled weapons, while arresting 16" of those facing federal charges. Six others involved in the federal investigation were already in custody and four are fugitives.
Earlier in the investigation, law enforcement officials seized more than $50,000; four firearms, including a sawed-off shotgun; more than two pounds of heroin; and wholesale quantities of cocaine, all in the Chicago area. In addition, close to 2 tons of marijuana was seized, according to the press release.
Drug stash house was a ruse in undercover sting
Law enforcement officials earlier this week arrested three on federal charges of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine that they planned to steal from what they believed was a drug stash house. In reality, the supposed stash house was set up as a ruse by undercover agents, the press release stated.
Tracy said what marked this investigation as unique is the fact that a single undercover agent managed for two years to successfully infiltrate the Latin Kings gang, resulting a multi-level law enforcement sting operation.
The three defendants arrested Monday for allegedly conspiring to steal drugs from the undercover stash house are Justin R. Davila, 23, Jason J. Davila, 21, and Nieko E. Hadley, 20, all of Joliet.
Arrests stem from two alleged kingpins in the Latin Kings gang
Alan Cisneros, 27, of Summit, whom police refer to as a regional leader of the Midwest Region of the Almighty Latin King Nation, was arrested in May. Between November 2011 and May 2012, the Cisneros drug trafficking organization was based in Summit, police said.
Garcia, of New Lenox, was allegedly involved in illegal activities in relation to Cisneros' activities, the press release noted. Fernando Llanes, of Lemont, and Ernesto Rosales, of Orland Hills, were also charged in the Cisneros case and are accused of being drug distributors to whom Cisneros fronted cocaine for distribution.
Another allegedly high-ranking member of the gang was identified as Damian Rivera, 31, of Burbank. His activities, according to the press release, were based in Chicago. He was arrested on charges that he reportedly bought and sold heroin.
According to the release, the Rivera drug trafficking organization allegedly distributed or attempted to posses and distribute at least 5.5 kilograms of heroin and collected more than $171,850 in heroin proceeds between March and June this year.
The multi-level investigation included the U.S. Department of Justice, Joliet Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ATF, Homeland Security Investigations, Illinois State Police, and police department in Chicago, Summit, and Lyons.
Gary Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, lauded the cooperation and efforts of law enforcement agencies.
"These cases are textbook examples of the work that the U.S. Attorney's Office routinely performs with all of our law enforcement partners—federal, state and local—to stem the tide of gangs, guns, drugs and violent crime in Chicago and neighboring communities," he said.