CHICAGO — More than ten defendants are facing federal drug charges for allegedly trafficking fentanyl, heroin and cocaine on Chicago’s South Side.
The investigation, dubbed “Operation Box Car Willie,” centered on drug sales in the city’s Woodlawn neighborhood and resulted in the seizure of distribution quantities of fentanyl, heroin and crack cocaine. The probe was conducted under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of OCDETF is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations.
A criminal complaint and affidavit filed Tuesday in federal court in Chicago charges ten defendants with conspiracy to possess controlled substances with intent to deliver. One other defendant is charged individually with possessing controlled substances with intent to deliver, bringing the total number of defendants to eleven.
Several of the defendants were arrested Wednesday. Detention hearings will be held next week before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez.
The charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; James M. Gibbons, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; Eddie Johnson, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department; Leo P. Schmitz, Director of the Illinois State Police; and Gabriel L. Grchan, Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. Substantial assistance was provided by the Illinois Secretary of State Police Department and the Illinois Department of Corrections.
According to the charges, JONATHAN MASON, 42, of Chicago, operated a drug trafficking organization in the 6400 block of South Champlain Avenue in Chicago. Mason conspired with DEON PUGH, 37, of Chicago, and KEVIN TWYMAN, 35, of Chicago, as well as others, to obtain wholesale quantities of cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and marijuana for distribution in the Chicago area, the complaint states. The other charged conspirators who allegedly distributed the narcotics include DERRICK WILTZ, 44; EDUARDO ANDERSON, 51; DENNIS MYERS, 59; RYAN PEARSON, 40; ALVIN WILLIAMS, 48; PARIS OBRYANT, 37; and MARTELL WHITE, 31; all of Chicago.
The conspirators allegedly sold drugs inside two stores in the Woodlawn neighborhood – one on East 63rd Street and the other on East 67th Street. On two occasions last month, undercover law enforcement officers purchased cocaine and heroin from Pearson and Obryant inside the 63rd Street store, the complaint states.
The defendant charged individually with possession is WILLIAM RUTLEDGE, 34, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Rutledge is identified in the complaint as a customer of Mason and Pugh who allegedly purchased more than 100 grams of crack cocaine from the pair last month.
The public is reminded that a complaint contains only charges and is 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 conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, while the possession charge against Rutledge is punishable by up to 20 years. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Kutcher and Kristen Viglione are representing the government.