CHICAGO – Nine Aurora, Ill., residents are facing federal narcotics and/or weapons charges for allegedly selling crack or powder cocaine, and in some cases heroin and firearms, federal and local law enforcement officials announced Wednesday. Another 10 defendants face similar state-related charges in Kane County.
The charges stem from a narcotics and firearms trafficking investigation in Kane County led by the following agencies: the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and the Aurora Police Department.
Five of the nine federal defendants were arrested Oct. 3; the remaining four were already in custody. During the investigation, which began in the spring of 2011, agents seized five firearms, including two 12-gauge shotguns, and various amounts of crack and powder cocaine, and heroin.
The federal defendants were charged in nine separate complaints that were filed Tuesday in the Northern District of Illinois and unsealed following the arrests. The five defendants arrested Wednesday appeared before Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert in U.S. district court.
Gary S. Shapiro, acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, praised the teamwork of the HSI and ATF agents, along with the Aurora Police Department and the Kane County State Attorney's Office. Shapiro announced the charges with Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of HSI Chicago, Larry Ford, special agent in charge of ATF in Chicago, and Greg Thomas, Aurora police chief. The investigation was conducted under the umbrella of the U.S. Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.
All nine federal defendants were charged with at least one count of distributing a controlled substance for allegedly selling various amounts of crack or powder cocaine, or heroin, to an individual who was cooperating with law enforcement. Two defendants were also charged with being a felon possessing a firearm for allegedly selling a weapon to a cooperating individual. The primary confidential source is described as an admitted member of an Aurora street gang.
Lawrence Donaldson, 26, allegedly sold two 12-gauge shotguns, a .45-caliber pistol, a .38-caliber pistol, as well as heroin. Kendrick Webber, 27, allegedly sold a .22-caliber revolver and ammunition, as well as crack cocaine. The following seven Aurora residents were also charged with distributing a controlled substance: Antoine Harris, 30; Maurice Payne, 43; Johnathon Ibister, 31; Rasheed Naylor, 31; Keiotto Tennial, 33; Arnoldo Cepeda, 36; and Mark Jones, 36.
Harris and Payne each face a mandatory minimum of five years to a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine. The other seven federal defendants each face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony Garcia and Dylan Smith, Northern District of Illinois, are prosecuting this 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.