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Illinois man held on $15 million bail after authorities seize 9 kilos of heroin

AURORA, Ill. — A local man is being held on $15 million bail after authorities seized nine kilograms of heroin he planned to distribute; an Evanston, Ill., couple also face related money-laundering charges.

This heroin seizure and these criminal charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Aurora Police Department.

Modesto Alarcon, 41, of Aurora, is charged with unlawfully possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver, unlawfully possessing a controlled substance, and money laundering. Juan C. Fernandez, 39, and Reyna Garcia-Manzanares, 41, both of Evanston, are each charged with money laundering.

Alarcon appeared Wednesday in Kane County bond court via video conference. His bail was set at $15 million; Alarcon must post $1.5 million to be released on bond. Fernandez and Garcia-Manzanares appeared in Kane County bond court via video conference April 3. Bail for each was set at $500,000; each must post $50,000 to be released on bond. If any of the defendants post the bond security, they must first prove that the source of the money is legitimate before they can be released.

According to information presented in court, on April 1, 2014, Aurora police investigators and HSI special agents observed a meeting between Alarcon, Fernandez and Garcia-Manzanares on Aurora's near west side. Alarcon left the meeting in his vehicle, Fernandez and Garcia-Manzanares left in a separate vehicle.

A traffic stop was conducted on the Fernandez/Garcia-Manzanares vehicle. A lawful search of the vehicle revealed more than $190,000 in U.S. currency.

Authorities also conducted a lawful search of Alarcon's Grove Street residence. They discovered and seized the following items: about nine kilograms (20 pounds) of heroin, about $85,000 in U.S. currency, a handgun and related ammunition, and items consistent with drug distribution. The heroin has an estimated street value of $1.35 million.

If convicted of the most serious offense, Alarcon faces between 15 and 60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). Fernandez and Garcia-Manzanares each face between four and 15 years in IDOC.

"Heroin is dangerously addictive and often deadly, and it plagues nearly every community throughout the Chicago area. This seizure removes from circulation a significant amount of heroin that otherwise would have been distributed throughout the Chicago suburbs," Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said. "I consider these developments to be a meaningful victory as we continue to deal with the challenges of this heroin epidemic. Congratulations and thanks to the Aurora Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations for their work to remove this poison from the streets."

"This operation is an illustration of the continuing partnerships between the Aurora Police and other law enforcement agencies at all levels that has been instrumental in the Aurora's continuing crime drop over the years," said Chief Greg Thomas.

This heroin seizure is one of the largest by a Kane County law enforcement agency. In April 2011 the Kane County Sheriff's Office seized seven kilograms of heroin from a vehicle stopped along Interstate Highway 90 in Elgin. The driver of that vehicle, an El Paso, Texas, woman, pleaded guilty in December 2011 in Kane County court to unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, which is a Class X felony; she was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The woman told authorities that she was working with a Mexican drug cartel and that the heroin was being transported from Mexico to the Chicago area.

The charges against Alarcon, Fernandez and Garcia-Manzanares are not proof of guilt. Alarcon, Fernandez and Garcia-Manzanares are presumed innocent, and are entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.