Twenty-five Chicago area defendants were charged in criminal complaints filed earlier this week in either U.S. District Court or Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago with drug or weapons violations, including four who were charged with conspiracy to possess in excess of five kilograms of cocaine in what is alleged to have been an attempted robbery of a suspected drug “stash house.”
The charges were announced today by Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) together with Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Jody P. Weis, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD); and Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s Attorney.
Twenty-three of the defendants were arrested yesterday and Tuesday evening at various locations in and around Chicago, without incident, by members of the FBI’s Joint Task Force on Gangs and Officers from the CPD. Three other defendants remain at-large and are now considered fugitives from justice. Thirteen of those identified below were charged in one of seven separate criminal complaints, filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court with violating federal drug and firearms laws. Six of the complaints charged one or more defendants with violating federal weapons laws while the seventh charged four defendants with conspiring to possess multi-kilogram amounts of cocaine. The remaining 12 defendants were charged in state court in separate criminal complaints filed by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office with felony charges of Unlawful Sale of a Firearm and Unlawful Use of a Weapon. One of the state defendants faces separate drug charges.
According to both the state and federal complaints, 22 of the defendants allegedly were involved in the illegal possession or sale of firearms, including handguns, rifles, and assault- type weapons on Chicago’s near southwest side since at least January 2009. The weapons are alleged to have been purchased by the defendants or others as yet unknown in states neighboring Illinois and eventually sold (to undercover agents – or purchased by undercover agents) for amounts ranging from $300 - $1,000.
Four defendants were charged with conspiring to possess multi-kilogram amounts of cocaine in the alleged robbery attempt, while one of those four defendants was charged with both federal drug and weapons violations.
The investigation leading to the filing of the charges announced today, is part of an ongoing and coordinated effort by local, state and Federal authorities to identify and dismantle the many highly organized street gangs operating in Chicago and those that supply them with illegal weapons. This investigation, which resulted in the recovery of over 60 weapons, employed the extensive use of sophisticated physical surveillance techniques and the controlled and undercover purchase of illegal weapons.
This investigation was conducted jointly by the Chicago FBI’s Joint Task Force on Gangs and the CPD’s Gang Crimes Unit.
In announcing these arrests, Mr. Grant recognized the FBI’s continued partnership with law enforcement partners at every level in combating violent street gangs. Said Mr. Grant, “ The charges announced today demonstrates the FBI’s continued role in helping to stem the tide of street violence in the City of Chicago. This is the first of several FBI investigations in Chicago which has focused on the trafficking of illegal weapons. We are hopeful that the success of such efforts will help provide some semblance of law and order to those communities most affected”.
“These cases illustrate our longstanding commitment to prosecuting gun crimes, particularly when they intersect with drug-trafficking. Felons who possess firearms must know that they face potential federal prosecution and its consequences, including incarceration. People should be able to feel safe in going to school, to work, or playing outside their homes without living in fear of random gun violence,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.
Superintendent Weis added “We applaud the joint efforts of law enforcement during this operation because the targets were supplying weapons and drugs to hardened gang members – the people who were carrying out the most violent crimes. Their criminal activity put the lives of Chicago residents in danger every day. Now they are off the streets or on the run”.
Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez stated “The type of gun sales targeted in this operation are those that help gangs and drug dealers continue their reign of terror in our communities. And as we all know, those who truly pay the price for these illegal acts are the law abiding citizens, children and police officers who find themselves targeted or in the crossfire of these types of weapons”.
All of those arrested for violation of federal criminal statutes appeared before Magistrate Judge Martin C. Ashman in Chicago late yesterday and were ordered held without bond pending their next scheduled court appearance. They are being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Chicago. The defendants charged with being a previously convicted felon-in-possession of a firearm face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, if convicted, while the defendants facing federal drug charges face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison.
Nine of those charged with violating state criminal statutes are scheduled to appear later today in Cook County Circuit Court at the Criminal Courts Building in Chicago. The remaining two defendants were arrested in Indiana and Wisconsin and will appear in court pending return to Illinois.
Those charged with violating federal criminal statutes were identified as:
1) SAMUEL NUNEZ, age 23, 2719 West 39th Place, Chicago
2) JOSHUA VIDAL, age 23, 4500-02 West Fullerton, Chicago
3) SANTANA CRUZ, age 33, 5616 S. Troy Street, 2nd Floor, Chicago
4) CARLOS VIGNERI, age 43, 340 East Burlington Street, Riverside
5) JESUS CENTENO, age 28, 7023 West 73rd Street, Chicago
6) JESSE LOPEZ, age 23, 3149 West 38th Street, Chicago
7) DAVID MORALES, age 22, 2910 West Pershing, Chicago
8) JOEL VELASQUEZ, age 21, 2843 West Pershing, Chicago
9) ANTONIO COBB, age 29, 5631 S. Emerald, Chicago
10) DAVIAN MOSLEY, age 31, 15515 Woodlawn East, South Holland
11) JUAN DEJESUS, age 31, 4636 W. Wrightwood Avenue, Chicago
12) JUAN VELEZ, age 23, 4330 W. Haddon Avenue, Chicago
13) VICTOR TORRES, age 24,2442 N. Kildare, Chicago
VIDAL, DeJESUS, VELEZ and TORRES were charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine in connection with the attempted robbery.
Those charged with violating state criminal statutes were identified as:
14) IVAN ALVAREZ, age 21, 4342 S. Sawyer Avenue, Chicago
15) JOHNNY CASTILLO, JR., age 22, 3743 S. Washtenaw, Chicago
16) LARRY EILAND, age 21, 314 Yates Avenue, Calumet City
17) ASHLEY LECLOUX, age 23 10210 Ridgeland Avenue, Chicago Ridge, IL
18) ARMANDO RODRIGUEZ, age 22, 4640 South Spaulding Ave, Chicago
19) STEVEN VASQUEZ, age 22, 5605 Reading Avenue, East Chicago, IN
20) LOUIE VELASQUEZ, age 26, 3142 Ridgeland Avenue, Berwyn
21) RICHARD VELASQUEZ, age 20, 3109 West 39th Place, Chicago
22) RODRIGO VELEZ, age 18, 3112 West 39th Place, Chicago,
23) JOSE ZAMORA, age 27, 2814 West 22nd Place, Chicago
24) GUILLERMO ZAMUDIO, JR., age 20, 4604 S. Spaulding, Chicago
25) EDWARD ZAVALA, age 29, 3426 West 38th Street, Chicago
Defendants SAMUEL NUNEZ, CARLOS VIGNERI and GUILLERMO ZAMUDIO, JR. eluded capture and remain at-large. All three men are now the subject of a nationwide manhunt which is being coordinated by the Chicago FBI. Anyone having information as to their current whereabouts is asked to call the FBI at