Eighteen individuals, including seventeen members of the Maniac Latin Disciples street gang, operating primarily on Chicago’s Northwest side in and around Humboldt Park, were arrested today by agents and officers assigned to the FBI’s Joint Task Force on Gangs, culminating a nearly two-year long investigation which targeted illicit drug and firearms sales. Two additional defendants remain at-large and are now the subject of a nationwide manhunt.
The arrests were announced today by Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Jody P. Weis, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD).
Some of the charges were contained in eight separate criminal complaints filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, which were unsealed earlier today, and which charged 10 current or former Chicago area residents with distribution of a controlled substance or violating federal firearms laws. Ten others were charged with violating state drug or firearms laws in charges filed in Cook County Circuit Court.
Four of those arrested today were charged in one of four federal complaints with distribution of in excess of 50 grams of crack cocaine. They are identified as RICHARD FISCHER, age 32, of 5333 West Carmen Avenue, Chicago; DAVID GONZALEZ, age 22, of 4824 West Drummond Place, Chicago; STANFIELD STEELE, age 34, of 439 Durbin Street, Gary, Indiana; and SHAROND WILLIAMS, age 30, of 2457 North Albany Avenue, Chicago. All four were arrested at various locations, without incident. A fifth defendant, identified as STEVEN RENTERIA, age 26, of Chicago, was in custody on unrelated charges while a sixth defendant, DWIGHT JOHNS, age 33, of 11 West Division Street, Chicago, eluded capture and remains at-large. Two others arrested today were charged in separate federal complaints with distribution of in excess of five grams of crack cocaine. They are identified as MARCUS MARINELLI, age 28, of 2622 North Sayre, Chicago and ALEXANDER SANTIAGO, age 33, of 2942 North Nagle Avenue, Chicago. Both men were arrested at separate locations, without incident.
Also arrested today was JESUS LAGUNAS, age 24, of 1806 North Washtenaw Avenue, Chicago, who was charged in a separate federal complaint with felon-in-possession of a firearm. LUIS CANCEL, age 20, of 311 East Carroll Street in Kissimmee, Florida was also charged in a federal complaint with felon-in-possession of a firearm, but eluded capture and remains at-large.
Those arrested on state charges are identified as TONY BRITO, age 30, of 3915 West Grand, Chicago; MARCO ESTRADA, age 22, of 3906 North Christiana Avenue, Chicago; FRANCISCO GARCIA, age 44, of 1442 North Avers, Chicago; ANGEL JIMENEZ, age 32, 1849 North Washtenaw Avenue, Chicago; IVAN MELENDEZ, age 36, of 1422 North Lawndale, Chicago; NICHOLAS MENDOZA, age 27, of 2144 North Keeler, Chicago;
ALPER SENGER, age 31, of 4155 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago; ELLIOT TORRES, age 22, of 1839 North Washtenaw, Chicago; and ANTHONY ZAFIRO, age 20, of 1736 North Campbell Avenue, Chicago.
A tenth state defendant, JOSE MATEO, age 27, of 1838 North Washtenaw, Chicago, was in custody on unrelated charges.
This investigation, which was code named “Operation Bruised Forks”, was investigated by the Chicago FBI’s Joint Task Force on Gangs, which is comprised of FBI special agents and officers from the Chicago Police Department, Area 5 Spanish Gang Task Force and Organized Crime Division, and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office also assisted with the investigation.
Investigators utilized undercover and controlled purchases of illegal narcotics and firearms, both of which helped lead to the filing of the charges announced today. During the course of the investigation, over a kilogram of cocaine, primarily cocaine base in the form of crack cocaine, 35 grams of heroin, and 24 weapons were recovered.
All of those arrested on federal charges are scheduled to appear before Magistrate Judge Morton Denlow in Chicago, starting at 2:00 PM today, at which time they will be formally charged. If convicted, those charged with possession of in excess of 50 grams of crack cocaine face a mandatory minimum sentence of ten (10) years incarceration, those charged with possession of in excess of 5 grams of crack cocaine face a mandatory minimum sentence of five (5) years incarceration, while those charged with felon-in-possession of a firearm face a possible sentence of up to ten (10) years incarceration.
Those arrested on state charges are scheduled to appear in bond court at dates and times to be determined. If convicted, they face possible sentences of up to thirty (30) years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.