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Press Release

35 Defendants Charged in Joint Federal and State Investigation into Heroin and Fentanyl Delivery Service in Chicago Area

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — Thirty-five individuals are facing criminal charges as part of a joint federal and state investigation into heroin and fentanyl trafficking in Chicago.

During the multi-year investigation, dubbed “Operation Road Rage,” law enforcement seized a kilogram of heroin, most of which contained fentanyl, approximately $100,000 in cash, five firearms, and four vehicles.  Much of the alleged drug trafficking occurred in the West Garfield Park neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago.  Many of the defendants allegedly distributed heroin and fentanyl-laced heroin to customers in the Chicago area, with drivers dispatched to make deliveries after customers placed orders on a telephone hotline.

The investigation was jointly conducted by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force (HIDTA).  The task forces partner with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations.

Criminal complaints unsealed in U.S. District Court in Chicago charge 22 defendants with federal drug offenses.  Many of the federal defendants were arrested Thursday, and detention hearings will be held this week in federal court in Chicago.  Thirteen other defendants were charged in state complaints, and many of them were also arrested Thursday.  The state defendants have begun making initial appearances in Cook County Criminal Court.

The charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Kimberly M. Foxx, Cook County State’s Attorney; Brian McKnight, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Gabriel L. Grchan, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago; Nicholas Roti, Director of HIDTA; and Eddie Johnson, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.  Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Marshals Service.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Misty Wright and Shy Jackson represent the government.

Fourteen federal defendants are charged in U.S.A. v. Robinson, et al (19 CR 201).  The complaint describes a drug trafficking organization in which heroin hotline operators and dispatchers often referred to themselves as “Sean.”  Customers intending to purchase heroin and fentanyl-laced heroin called a designated telephone number operated by members of the “Sean” drug trafficking operation, the complaint states.  The dispatchers then sent the organization’s many distributors to various West Side locations to conduct the drug deals, the complaint states.  Undercover law enforcement officers disrupted the Sean organization by conducting approximately 50 narcotics purchases after calling the Sean phones and meeting with the distributors, according to the complaint.  Charged with drug conspiracy are four individuals who, at various times, were responsible for dispatching the distributors: THOMAS CLEVELAND, 27, of Chicago, FREDERICK GILES, 26, of Chicago, AMELIA SMITH, 30, of Country Club Hills, and MICHAEL ROBINSON, 24, of Country Club Hills; as well as ten alleged distributors: WILLIE BLAIR, 32, of Chicago, LAWRENCE CLARK, 26, of Chicago, CARDELL COLEMAN, 21, of Chicago, JOLISA GAINES, 29, of Chicago, D’ANGELO GILES, 21, of Chicago, TYRELL KELLY, 27 of Chicago, KEITH MANNING, 27, of Bellwood, DEVONTE SMITH, 26, of Chicago, KAJUAN SMITH, 30, of Chicago, and DESMOND WHITE, 25, of Chicago.

Two federal defendants are charged in U.S.A. v. Chose, et al (19 CR 202).  Charged with drug conspiracy are ANNA T. CHOSE, 54, of Morris, and ROXANNE E. CONN, 56, of Wilmington.  The charges accuse the pair of being regular customers of the Sean drug trafficking organization.  The complaint describes three instances in the summer of 2018 when Chose and Conn purchased distribution quantities of narcotics from Robinson, and alleges that they regularly purchased narcotics from the Sean drug trafficking organization.

Clark and three other federal defendants are charged in U.S.A. v. Pitts, et al (19 CR 204).  Charged with drug conspiracy and distribution offenses are MICHAEL PITTS, 33, of Bellwood, TEVIN FORD, 27, of Chicago, and JHAMAAL HANEY, 26, of Chicago.  According to the complaint, the four defendants conspired to distribute approximately 94.8 grams of fentanyl-laced heroin to an undercover law enforcement officer from August 2017 to March 2018.  The charges also hold Pitts personally responsible for distributing a total of approximately 386.5 grams of heroin and fentanyl-laced heroin to undercover officers from August 2017 to May 2018.  One of Pitts’ customers suffered a drug overdose in May 2018 after Pitts distributed 1.13 grams of fentanyl-laced heroin to him, the complaint states.  The man appeared to be unconscious when Pitts pulled him out of a vehicle and left him at a nearby bus stop, the complaint states.  Chicago Fire Department personnel arrived on the scene and worked to successfully revive the man, the complaint states.

Three other federal defendants are charged with narcotics offenses as part of the investigation: JUSTIN BANASIAK, 35, of Chicago; JACLYN ROWLEY, 31, of Michigan City, Ind.; and MATTHEW ROSOLIK, 32, of Trail Creek, Ind.

The charges in the complaints carry maximum penalties of between 20 years and life imprisonment.  If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. 

The public is reminded that charges contain only accusations and are not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated March 12, 2019

Drug Trafficking
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