CHICAGO – A federal investigation into alleged passport fraud and narcotics trafficking by the Belizean Bloods street gang operating in Evanston, Ill., and Chicago has resulted in charges against 24 defendants, most of whom were arrested this week.
These arrests and charges were announced Thursday by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. They resulted from a multi-agency investigation conducted by the following agencies: U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service; the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division; and the U.S. Marshals.
The Chicago and Evanston police departments also played significant roles in the investigation. The investigations were conducted under the umbrella of U.S. Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), with significant assistance from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA.)
Defendant Jerry Johnson allegedly directed the Belizean Bloods drug-trafficking organization in Chicago. He was arrested Wednesday in Salt Lake City and faces federal charges in Chicago. Five other defendants were arrested Tuesday in Lyons, Ill., and three guns were seized. The defendants had gathered there as part of an alleged conspiracy to rob what they believed was 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of cocaine from a different drug organization. This was, in fact, a ruse in an undercover sting operation.
Overall, 10 separate federal complaints were filed and unsealed in U.S. District Court in Chicago after search and arrest warrants were executed Tuesday and Wednesday. The charges arise from two coordinated investigations, Operation Blood Hound and Operation Black Orchid. In 2009, the Chicago field office of the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service began investigating alleged passport fraud by Belizean nationals. At the same time, the FBI and Evanston and Chicago police were investigating alleged narcotics trafficking by suspected members of the Belizean Bloods.
Throughout the course of the investigations, bulk amounts of powder and crack cocaine, firearms and assault rifles, and cash were seized. Eight additional Belizean nationals were prosecuted for passport fraud, and eight others for illegally re-entering the country within the past year in federal court in Chicago. Another Belizean national was arrested Wednesday in Chicago on passport fraud charges filed in the Southern District of Florida.
"These coordinated efforts demonstrate the commitment and teamwork of all law enforcement agencies in the Chicago area to combat the dangerous combination of gangs, guns and drugs in our community," Fitzgerald said.
The ongoing investigation relied on undercover purchases of narcotics, surveillance, consensual audio and video recordings, and court-authorized wiretaps of telephone conversations. Information was also provided by multiple cooperating witnesses, including former members and associates of the Belizean Bloods.
According to the charges against Johnson and three others, Johnson's sources of supply included quantities of narcotics from Belize. He allegedly directed the distribution of powder and crack cocaine and "cooked" powder cocaine to produce crack, which was distributed in wholesale quantities. A cooperating former Belizean Bloods member told agents that Johnson inherited his father's drug connections when his father was deported to Belize. The Belizean Bloods narcotics distribution route allegedly included Illinois, Utah, Ohio, Indiana, New York and California.
A summary of the charges is as follows:
- Myreon Flowers, 39, Anward Trapp, 31, and Rudy Space, 30, all of Chicago, were charged with conspiring to possess and distribute cocaine. They allegedly planned to rob a purported 50 kilograms of cocaine from a purported "stash" garage in Berwyn. The complaint alleges they were planning a purported armed robbery, and shooting if necessary, of three members of a Mexican drug cartel on Tuesday. They were arrested at a meeting spot in Lyons as they prepared to descend upon the fictitious stash location.
- Also arrested were David Flowers, 34, and Duane Jones, 28, both of Chicago. They face separate charges of distributing crack cocaine, together with Myreon Flowers and Eric Burnett, 24.
- Jerry Johnson, of Chicago and Evanston, together with Sheldon Morales, 30, of Wheeling, Ill., Douglas Wilson, 57, of Evanston, and Tyrita Myers, of Chicago, were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute wholesale quantities of cocaine and crack cocaine between August 2010 and March 2011. Morales is an alleged member of the Gangster Disciples street gang who supplied Johnson with powder cocaine.
- Anderson Ward, 29, of Chicago, was charged with possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute in March.
- William Gentle, 30, of Chicago, and Richard Ellis, 18, of Evanston, were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute crack cocaine between May and July this year.
- Gilbert Gadson, 45, and Roy Walker, 52, both of Chicago, were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute crack cocaine in January and February this year.
- Glen Flowers, 40, of Skokie, Ill., was charged with passport fraud for attempting in December 2010 to fraudulently renew a U.S. passport in the name of Herbert Williams, Jr.
- The same Glen Flowers was charged with distributing powder cocaine. Harrington Gibson, 63, of Chicago, was charged with distributing crack cocaine on June 29.
- Carlos Perez, 41, of Chicago, Alfredo Castro, and Jonathan Vaughan, 26, of Chicago, were charged with distributing cocaine on Oct. 20.
- Anwar Trapp, together with Wilton Bennett, 29, of Chicago. Marlon Conorquie, 36, of Chicago, and Alix Aurele, 37, of Dolton, Ill., were charged with distributing crack cocaine or heroin in September and October this year.
The defendants face various maximum penalties on the narcotics charges ranging from a maximum of 20 years in prison to mandatory minimum sentences of either 5 or 10 years, to a maximum of 40 years or life in prison, together with maximum fines of $250,000, $2 million or $4 million. The passport fraud charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. sentencing guidelines.
The government is being represented the following assistant U.S. attorneys from the Northern District of Illinois: Jessica Romero, Meghan Morrissey, Christopher Grohman and Kate Zell.
The public is reminded that charges are merely allegations 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.