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7 Chicago-area residents face federal drug charges for cocaine trafficking

CHICAGO — Seven Chicago residents were taken into custody Monday as a result of a multi-agency investigation into drug trafficking on the southwest side of Chicago.

These arrests were announced by Robert J. Shields Jr., acting special agent in charge of FBI Chicago; Gary S. Shapiro, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Jack Riley, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Chicago; Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Chicago; and Garry F. McCarthy, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.

All the defendants were taken into custody in the morning hours of Sept. 30 at various locations in and around Chicago. They appeared later in the day before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel G. Martin, and all were ordered held until their next court appearances.

The charges were contained in seven individual criminal complaints filed Sept. 30 and unsealed following their arrests. All seven defendants were charged with one count each of a variety of felony narcotics charges. Those arrested and their charges include the following:

  • Abel Acosta, 38, charged with distributing cocaine;
  • Victor Arredondo, aka "Bastard," 30, charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine;
  • Jose Brizuela, 38, charged with distributing cocaine;
  • Miguel Chavez, 36, charged with distributing cocaine;
  • Leonel Monarrez, 34, charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute;
  • Jaime Navar, aka "Poli," 30, charged with distributing cocaine; and
  • Horacio Ramirez, aka "Lacho," 22, charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

The investigation leading to the filed charges and arrests is part of an ongoing and coordinated effort by local, state and federal authorities to identify and dismantle drug trafficking organizations operating in and around the Chicago metropolitan area. In addition to these latest charges, the investigation, which began in 2011, resulted in the September 2012 arrests of numerous other individuals. Investigators employed the use of sophisticated physical surveillance techniques, court-authorized telephone intercepts, and the controlled purchase of cocaine.

If convicted, the defendants face maximum penalties ranging from 20 to 40 years in prison and, for some, mandatory minimum sentences of five years in prison. In addition, they each face a maximum fine ranging from $1 million to $5 million.

This investigation was conducted under the umbrella of the U.S. Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).

Shields expressed his gratitude to the Berwyn Police Department for its assistance during the course of the investigation, and to the Hammond Police Department for assisting with the arrest of defendant Brizuela.

The public is reminded that complaints are not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.