CHICAGO – Twenty-six alleged members and associates of the Latin Kings street gang are facing federal narcotics charges, most of them for their alleged roles in one of two drug-trafficking organizations that supplied and distributed multi-kilogram quantities of heroin, cocaine and marijuana in Chicago and the south suburbs. Another 17 defendants face related state charges in Cook and Will counties.
The federal charges, contained in four separate criminal complaints, stem from a narcotics and firearms trafficking investigation led by the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Joliet Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad (MANS); and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
On Wednesday, agents seized an undetermined amount of cash and 13 firearms, including five long-barreled weapons, while arresting 16 of the federal defendants. Six other federal defendants were already in custody, and four remain fugitives. Previously, during the two-year investigation, agents 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. Nearly two tons of marijuana that was interdicted along the Southwest border were also seized.
A federal magistrate judge approved the use of no-knock arrest warrants for two defendants: Damian Rivera, aka "Spook," aka "King Spook," 31, of Burbank; and Emmanuel Fernandez, aka "Maniac," aka "Manny," 27, of Chicago; based on allegedly possessing firearms and expressing a willingness to use violence.
Three federal defendants were arrested earlier this week and charged with conspiring to possess and distribute cocaine that they planned to steal from what they believed was a drug stash house. Instead, it was actually a ruse as part of an undercover sting operation. The overarching investigation made critical use of an undercover agent who successfully infiltrated the Latin Kings for an extended time.
Twenty-two of the defendants were charged with various drug distribution offenses in two separate criminal complaints filed Tuesday in the Northern District of Illinois and unsealed following the arrests. The federal defendants arrested Wednesday appeared before Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys in U.S. District Court; all but one remains in federal custody pending detention hearings.
Gary S. Shapiro, acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, praised the dedication and teamwork of HSI, ATF, and Joliet MANS agents who worked diligently to disrupt these alleged drug-trafficking organizations. Mr. Shapiro announced the charges with Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of HSI Chicago, and Larry Ford, special agent in charge of ATF in Chicago.
The following agencies also participated: Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division, Illinois State Police, as well as the Illinois police departments of Summit, Bolingbrook and Lyons. The investigation was conducted under the umbrella of the U.S. Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.
"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," Shapiro said.
Hartwig said: "This investigation has dealt a serious blow to alleged criminal organizations suspected of trafficking large quantities of heroin and cocaine from Mexico into the Chicago area. The arrests, including those of several high-ranking Latin Kings gang members, dismantled a destructive supply chain and prevented untold amounts of dangerous drugs and guns from reaching our streets."
"Combating drugs and violent crime, while protecting the public, is the mission of ATF," Ford said. "Yesterday, the men and women of ATF, together with our law enforcement partners, arrested ranking members of the Latin Kings street gang operating in the suburbs of Summit, South Holland, Joliet, Bolingbrook, Orland Hills, New Lenox, Lemont and Brookfield, with tentacles reaching into the Ogden police district on Chicago's near west side, thereby making our respective communities safer. It is a priority of ATF to protect our neighborhoods from drug trafficking and the accompanying use of firearms and violent crime," he added.
United States v. Rivera, et al.
Twelve defendants were charged with various conspiracies to distribute heroin, or were charged individually with possessing heroin with intent to distribute, or distributing heroin, in an eight-count complaint supported by a 234-page affidavit. These defendants were associated with defendant Rivera, the alleged leader of a Chicago-based drug trafficking organization (DTO) that bought and sold kilogram quantities of heroin on a monthly basis, the charges allege. Between March and June, the Rivera DTO allegedly distributed or attempted to possess and distribute at least 5.5 kilograms (about 12 pounds) of heroin and collected more than $171,850 in heroin proceeds.
In May, agents seized more than a kilogram of heroin and more than $53,000 combined on two occasions in May and June. In June 2011, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized a shipment of about 1,674 kilograms (about 3,700 pounds) of marijuana that was found hidden inside furniture in a tractor-trailer on the U.S.-Mexican border at Laredo, Texas. The electronic manifest listed the "ultimate consignee" as "Damian Rivera dba D. Rivera Construction," with various personal identifiers associated with Rivera.
The complaint details recorded conversations in which Rivera allegedly said that the last time he was in Mexico was when he ordered the load of marijuana that was seized by CBP officers at the border.
Between September 2011 and March, the undercover agent and others allegedly purchased 100-gram quantities of heroin on four occasions from Rivera and others, as well as a .380-caliber pistol, a 9mm firearm, a Glock pistol, a sawed-off shotgun, and a bullet-proof vest.
Also charged in this complaint were Pedro Antonio Hernandez-Aceves, who allegedly brokered the shipment of kilogram quantities of heroin on behalf of the Rivera organization, and Fernandez, who allegedly stored and distributed wholesale quantities of heroin, and collected and delivered cash proceeds generated by selling heroin. Defendant Hector Arias allegedly distributed wholesale quantities of heroin and collected cash for delivery to the organization's heroin supplier, while Hilario Trevino allegedly collected the Rivera organization's money.
Rivera and his organization received shipments of wholesale quantities heroin from defendants Israel Rios, Eugenio Miranda-Aparicio and Arturo Esquivel-Camacho, the charges allege. Defendants Lamont Wallace, William Nunez, Adalberto Diaz and Deangelo Curtis allegedly distributed the heroin.
United States v. Cisneros, et al.
Eight defendants were charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and two others were charged with distributing cocaine in a three-count complaint supported by a 132-page affidavit. These defendants were associated with Alan Cisneros, aka "Ghost," 27, of Summit, Ill. Cisneros is the alleged leader of a DTO based in Summit, and was the alleged regional leader of the Midwest Region of the Almighty Latin King Nation until he was arrested in May.
Between November 2011 and May 7 the Cisneros DTO allegedly obtained multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine from suppliers such as co-defendants Andres Garcia and Ricardo Juarez, and distributed the cocaine to its customers. Defendant Christian Ramirez allegedly distributed cocaine and served as a manager of the organization. Ramirez assisted Cisneros by dealing directly with drug suppliers on Cisneros' behalf, and by obtaining, preparing and storing cocaine prior to its distribution to organization workers and drug customers, the charges allege. Further, Ramirez allegedly collected cash from workers, distributors and customers, and stored and delivered drug money on behalf of the organization.
Co-defendants Faustino Morales, Javier Abeja, Alejandro Cabrera, Fernando Llanes and Ernesto Rosales allegedly were drug distributors, or workers, to whom Cisneros allegedly fronted cocaine for distribution. These defendants also delivered cocaine or cash to Cisneros or Ramirez, prepared cocaine to be sold to customers, stored cocaine and money, and conducted counter-surveillance, according to the complaint. Additionally, Abeja and Llanes allegedly brokered purchases of cocaine from suppliers. Cisneros' wife, Diana Cisneros, allegedly worked for the organization and assisted her husband with storing and delivering drugs and proceeds, and conducting counter-surveillance.
In a separate complaint, Juan Amaya, aka "Crow," 37, of Chicago, was charged with distributing an ounce of cocaine to an undercover agent in November 2010. Amaya is an alleged ranking Latin Kings member who distributed drugs in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood.
The following three defendants were arrested Monday for allegedly conspiring to steal drugs from the undercover stash house: Justin R. Davila, aka "Fatman," 23; his brother, Jason J. Davila, 21; and Nieko E. Hadley, aka "Yogi," 20; all of Joliet.
Eight defendants in the Rivera case face a mandatory minimum of 10 years to a maximum of life in prison and a $10 million fine; the others face sentences ranging from a maximum of 20 to 40 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. All 10 defendants in the Cisneros case face a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 40 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $5 million.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tiffany Tracy, Peter M. Flanagan, Christopher Grohman and Philip Fluhr, Northern District of Illinois, are prosecuting the case.
The public is reminded that complaints contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.