Skip to main content
Press Release

Former Elgin Man Sentenced To 30 Years In Federal Prison For Gun And Drug Crimes

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

CHICAGO — A former Elgin man was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison after being convicted of firearms and narcotics crimes at trial this past summer, federal law enforcement officials announced today. The case is another example of successful cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement partners in investigating and prosecuting dangerous gun and drug offenders in northern Illinois.

JOEL RIVAS, 35, who resided in Chicago when he was arrested in 2010, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve, who said the lengthy sentence was necessary to protect society.

“Although drug trafficking may provide a steady source of income for people unwilling to do the hard work required for legitimate employment, such behavior is reprehensible and should be severely punished,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memo. “The sentence may help to deter others from making the same poor choices as [Rivas].”

Rivas was sentenced as an Armed Career Criminal after being convicted at trial in July of conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, possession of cocaine and marijuana, and illegally possessing two guns, both as a previously convicted felon and in furtherance of drug trafficking.

Evidence in the case showed that between 2007 and 2010, Rivas and co-defendant ISMAEL MIRANDA, 36, also formerly of Elgin, distributed wholesale amounts of cocaine and marijuana to customers in northern and central Illinois. Rivas and Miranda rented a storage unit in Elgin to conduct their business of storing, packaging, and selling narcotics. In February 2010, Elgin police searched the storage unit and seized cocaine and marijuana, as well as a loaded .357 caliber handgun in a tool box and a 9 mm caliber handgun inside a desk.

Rivas’ lengthy sentence was determined, in part, by his status as an Armed Career Criminal under federal law, based on his previous convictions dating to the 1990s for various state narcotics offenses. Judge St. Eve also found that Rivas lied during his testimony at trial. Miranda previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. The case is just one example of lengthy federal prison sentences that defendants face when convicted of serious firearm and narcotics charges. Other recent examples may be found at:

The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Thompson and Erika Csicsila.

The sentences were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Constance Hester, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of ATF. The Elgin Police Department, the Illinois State Police and other state and local law enforcement agencies assisted in the investigation and trial.

Updated July 23, 2015