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Seventeen individuals were charged for distributing or attempting to distribute narcotics in Chicago, according to an announcement on Thursday, May 27, 2021. The charges stem from a multi-year narcotics investigation called “Operation Tragic Blow” run by joint federal and local drug trafficking officials.
The multi-agency narcotics probe began in 2018 and included officers and agents led by the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations and the Chicago Police Department. U.S. States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John R Lausch, Jr., announced the federal charges; he was joined by Angie Salazar, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of HSI, and the Superintendent of CPD David Brown.
Many of the Federal defendants were arrested on Wednesday. They have begun to make initial appearances in the U.S. District Court of Illinois in Chicago. An additional two people were charged in state court as a result of the narcotics investigation.
Operation Tragic Blow is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation.
The task force’s job is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle top-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States. They use a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency strategy.
During the probe, law enforcement officers seized 16 kilograms (35.27 pounds) of narcotics. Police confiscated 14 kg (30.86 pounds) of cocaine in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood. Another seizure netted 2 kg (4.4 pounds) of heroin in Buena Park.
The individuals charged with a federal narcotics offense ages range between 31 and 58, including Yarnell Allen, 41, of Dolton; Virginia Vazquez-Perez 37 of Cicero; Richard C. Rincon, 39, and Antonio Segura, 39, of Oak Lawn. Four of the defendants hail from Mexico: Diego Galeana-Gonzaga, 35; Margarito Galeana-Gomez, 36; Juan Rosas-Cabrera, 31, and Sergio Sanchez-Chavez, 36. The following defendants reside in Chicago: Ulises Avina, 32; Oscar Balderama 42, Celestino Barahona-Serrano, 38; Jose Gonzaga, 58; Rafael Medellin, Jr., 32; Francisco Sanchez-Yanez, 32; Jorge A. Valdez, 40; Delvin Williams, 42; and Rafael Zarco-Picazo, 33.
In addition to cocaine and heroin, law enforcement found supplies used in narcotics packaging — a heat sealer, vacuum sealer rolls, and a digital scale. During a bust in the 2300 block of North Menard Avenue in Chicago, cocaine was discovered in a Nissan Z sedan; the cocaine was packed into bricks and hidden behind a speaker console.
The Justice Department reminds the public that a complaint only lists charges and is not evidence of guilt. Defendants are always presumed innocent and entitle to a fair trial — the burden of proving a defendant’s guilt lies solely on the government.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
WGN-TV: 17 people arrested, charged in multi-agency Chicago narcotics bust; by Julian Crews
United States Justice Department: 17 Defendants Charged in Drug Trafficking Probe Targeting Heroin and Cocaine Sales in Chicago
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Arvell Dorsey Jr.’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Kat Gardner’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License