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Seventeen Defendants Facing Federal Narcotics or Firearms Charges Alleging Nexus of Guns and Drugs in Chicago

FEB 22 (CHICAGO) —Seventeen defendants are facing federal narcotics and/or firearms charges which demonstrate again the intersection of drugs and illegal gun possession in Chicago. An investigation by the Chicago Police Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration of alleged drug-trafficking by a father and son that started less than a year ago, has resulted in federal narcotics charges against them, two alleged suppliers, at least eight alleged customers, and others, as well as the seizure of more than 14 kilograms of cocaine, three kilograms of heroin, 15 firearms, and approximately $320,000.

The investigation moved up and down an alleged drug supply ladder as a result of Chicago police officers and DEA agents using federal wiretaps on at least a dozen phones to intercept conversations and deliveries of narcotics and firearms. 

In a telephone conversation on Nov. 26 last year, defendant Dwyane Payne, also known as “Murder,” allegedly told an individual that he needed a gun because he was going to a memorial service at North Central Park Avenue and West Division Street, where rival gang members would be present. Based on that call and others that followed, police and agents set up surveillance at the intersection and, about an hour later, approached the man who Payne had been talking to as he was standing next to a 2005 Chrysler 300. The individual ran but was quickly apprehended and gave permission to search his car. Inside, two TEC-9 semi-automatic pistols with extended magazines were found on the floor of the backseat – one was loaded with 30 live rounds and the other, which had a defaced serial number, was loaded with approximately 28 live rounds, including one in the chamber.

Payne’s brother, Marshall Payne, was also indicted yesterday for being a previously convicted felon in illegal possession of both loaded TEC-9s.

Four days later, on Nov. 30, 2012, after listening to other intercepted conversations, investigators stopped a vehicle in the 7400 block of West Waveland Avenue, arrested the driver – an alleged drug courier, Lucio Cuevas – and seized two kilograms of cocaine and a handgun later found in a trap compartment in the vehicle. Believing that the cocaine was destined for delivery to the nearby residence of Johnny Mendez, located in the 3700 block of North Olcott Avenue, authorities later that day arrested Mendez and his father, Johnny Chaparro, who also lived nearby in the 3700 block of North Oketo Avenue. Investigators searched Mendez’s home and seized two kilograms of heroin, a handgun and approximately $209,130.

Authorities first began investigating alleged wholesale cocaine and heroin distribution by Chaparro and Mendez in 2012. The investigation resulted in charges against them, as well as two of their alleged suppliers, Jose Arguijo and Antonio Valencia-Pantoja, and at least eight alleged customers, Anthony Madison, Paul Jenkins, Lakicha White, Dislson Rocha, Joel Melendez, Dwayne Payne, Delilah Martinez, and IRIS CORREA. The charges allege that Chaparro and Mendez obtained kilogram quantities of narcotics from Arguijo on Sept. 3 and Nov. 26, 2012, and from Valencia-Pantoja on Nov. 30, including the cocaine that was seized on those dates.

Following the arrests of Chaparro, Mendez, and Cuevas on Nov. 30, and four other
defendants last week, six additional defendants were arrested on Wednesday, while two others
are in state custody, and two are fugitives.

All 17 defendants were charged in eight separate indictments returned yesterday by a federal grand jury. Most of the defendants either have been ordered detained or have detention hearings next week in U.S. District Court.

One indictment, against Chaparro, Mendez and seven others, seeks forfeiture of approximately $758,729 in alleged narcotics proceeds, including approximately $236,000 that was seized during the investigation. It also seeks forfeiture of Chaparro and Mendez’s residences, and an automobile. Other indictments seek forfeiture of smaller amounts of cash, as well as another vehicle and multiple firearms.

“Anyone who has paid attention over the last 25 years knows that these charges are just the latest result of the remarkable teamwork among the Chicago Police Department, DEA and other federal law enforcement agencies,” said Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. “While none of these defendants are accused of acts of violence; nevertheless, narcotics and firearms prosecutions such as these are effective in helping reduce violence in Chicago, and we will continue to work closely with the CPD to achieve that goal.”  Mr. Shapiro praised the dedication of the Chicago Police Department and the DEA for the disruption of this alleged narcotics distribution activity. 

“Guns and drugs remain the greatest underlying source of our city’s violence. The Chicago Police Department will continue to attack the pervasiveness of illegal weapons and narcotics in our communities from every angle,” said Garry F. McCarthy, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. “Focused, collaborative efforts with our federal partners send a clear message that those responsible for driving the related violence in our communities will be found and held accountable.”

Jack Riley, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Chicago office, said: “The indictments of these 17 individuals yesterday should serve as a notice to criminal networks in Chicago that allegedly traffic in narcotics and weapons that the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Chicago Police Department stand shoulder to shoulder in our commitment and we will use every available legal avenue to make our city safer.”

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

Details of the separate indictments follow:

United States v. Chaparro, et al., 12 CR 969

JOHNNY CHAPARRO, 50; his son, JOHNNY MENDEZ, aka “Trigger,” 29; JOSE ARGUIJO, 35; ANTHONY MADISON, 47; PAUL JENKINS, 63; LAKICHA WHITE, 36; DILSON ROCHA, 58; JOEL MELENDEZ, 20; and DWAYNE PAYNE, 29, all of Chicago except Melendez, who is from Milwaukee, were charged with various narcotics offenses in 19- count indictment. Seven of the nine defendants are in custody; Arguijo and Melendez are fugitives.

Mendez was charged with being a felon-in-possession and also possessing a firearm – a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol – while committing a drug offense. The felon-in-possession count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, while the count of possessing a firearm during a drug offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years to a maximum of life in prison, which must be served consecutively to any other sentence, if convicted.

Chaparro, Mendez, and Arguijo each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison and a $10 million fine on the narcotics charges. Madison, Jenkins, White, Rocha, and Melendez each face a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine on the narcotics charges, if convicted.

United States v. Chaparro and Meireles, 13 CR 171

JOHNNY CHAPARRO was charged again, together with MODESTO MEIRELES, aka “Old Man,” 62, of Chicago, in a six-count indictment for various narcotics offenses. 

Chaparro and Meireles face a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine, if convicted.

United States v. Valencia-Pantoja and Cuevas, 13 CR 170

ANTONIO VALENCIA-PANTOJA, 23, and LUCIO CUEVAS, 24, both of Chicago, were charged together in a three-count indictment for allegedly conspiring to distribute the cocaine that was seized from Cuevas on Nov. 30, 2012.  They each face a mandatory minimum of five years to a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine, if convicted.

United States v. Martinez and Correa, 13 CR 157

DELILAH MARTINEZ, 33, and her mother, IRIS CORREA, 57, both of Chicago, were charged together in an 11-count indictment for allegedly conspiring to distribute narcotics. 

Martinez was also indicted separately for allegedly being a felon-in-possession of a .357 revolver on July 23, 2012.  (United States v. Martinez, 13 CR 173)

They each face a man mandatory minimum of five years to a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine, if convicted. Martinez alone faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted of being a felon-in-possession of a firearm.

United States v. Payne, 13 CR 174
United States v. Lopez, 13 CR 154
United States v. Suriano, 13 CR 172

Three other defendants were charged separately in single-count indictments for allegedly being felons-in-possession of firearms. They are: MARSHALL PAYNE, 31, of Chicago, for allegedly possessing the two TEC-9s on Nov. 26, 2012; CARLOS LOPEZ, aka “Moses,” 34, of Elmwood Park, for allegedly possessing a .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun on June 8, 2012; and SALVATORE SURIANO, 25, of Chicago, for allegedly possessing a shotgun on July 31, 2012.

They each face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted of being a felon-in possession
of a firearm.

In each case, if convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines. The public is reminded that indictments 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.

The government is being represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Erika Csicsila and Sarah Streicker.

Parents and children are encouraged to educate themselves about the dangers of drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.JustThinkTwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.

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