Thirty-Five Defendants Facing State Or Federal Drug Charges For Allegedly Selling Heroin And Crack Cocaine On City’s West Side
CHICAGO — The alleged patriarch of a Gangster Disciples street gang faction that operates in the two square blocks surrounding the 4500 block of West Jackson Boulevard on the city’s west side was arrested today and charged, together with 34 other defendants, with possessing and distributing heroin and crack cocaine at two open air drug spots. JOHNNY HERNDON allegedly supplied and directed a drug trafficking organization that sold heroin, crack, and other narcotics since the early 1990s, and used the proceeds to accumulate more than 30 real estate properties, mostly multi-unit rentals, valued at more than $1.6 million, over the last two decades.
In addition to Herndon, also known as “Goo,” Chicago police officers and ATF and IRS agents began arresting 20 federal and 15 state defendants early this morning. Three firearms, approximately $10,000, and more than a half-kilogram of heroin were seized this morning during the arrests. Another 13 firearms and hundreds of grams of heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine, and marijuana were seized during the investigation. Police and federal agents also executed 10 search warrants at several defendants’ residences and alleged stash houses.
Herndon’s drug territory is particularly lucrative due to the heavy traffic of drug customers and proximity to the Eisenhower Expressway, and his organization used violence, guns, and threats to control and protect this territory, according to federal charges unsealed today.
In two instances during the investigation, in March and June of this year, CHRISTOPHER HARRIS, allegedly the day-to-day manager of Herndon’s organization who was also arrested today, was intercepted in recorded conversations directing that guns be brought to him. The second instance occurred on June 7 when law enforcement believes that Harris allegedly was looking for guns and mobilizing the Herndon organization to respond immediately after the shooting death that night of a Gangster Disciples member in the 4400 block of West Jackson. Law enforcement quickly located Harris before there was any retaliation, and he was charged federally today with being a felon-in-possession of a firearm for allegedly possessing a .357 caliber revolver that night.
Controlling two “drug spots” ― in the 300 block of South Kilbourn Avenue and the 4400 block of West Congress Avenue ― Herndon’s organization allegedly sold 540 quarter-gram rocks of crack cocaine daily for $10 each, or 135 grams of crack for $5,400 a day on average. The retail side of the organization alone sold more than four kilograms of crack and generated approximately $162,000 in revenue in an average 30-day month, the charges allege.
Since 1993, Herndon, 55, who lives in a converted three-flat in the 4500 block of West Jackson, allegedly spent more than $1 million to purchase 31 properties in Chicago and the area, including Gary, Ind.. The properties were purchased with drug proceeds and proceeds from the sale of other appreciated properties that were purchased with drug proceeds that were then re3 invested to purchase additional properties. All of the properties were purchased outright, with no mortgage, and many have been rehabbed. The rental properties, including some Section 8 subsidized units, generate more than $20,000 a month in rental receipts for Herndon, the charges allege.
The federal defendants were charged with various narcotics offenses in an 11-count criminal complaint that was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court and unsealed following the arrests. The federal defendants began appearing this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Mason in U.S. District Court. The state defendants were charged with possession or delivery of a controlled substance in separate complaints and will appear later in state court.
“Today’s takedown is another step in law enforcement’s Job One, and that is to build upon our decades’ long effort to wipe out drug gangs and gang factions that unfairly impact certain Chicago neighborhoods and make life dangerous for many fellow citizens,” said Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office remains committed to working with Cook County and our local and federal partners to fight gangs and violent crime until those neighborhoods are safe,” he added.
Mr. Fardon and Ms. Alvarez announced the charges with Garry F. McCarthy, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department; Carl J. Vasilko, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and James C. Lee, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. The investigation was conducted through the U.S. Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), and the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force (HIDTA) assisted in the investigation.
“Today’s action is a vivid display of the partnership between ATF and CPD and our commitment to eradicating violent drug and gun crimes in Chicago. As a result of our efforts, we have disrupted a violent drug trafficking organization on Chicago’s west side in a very short period of time,” Mr. Vasilko said.
“This investigation is a powerful and perfect testament of the good that can come when our agencies work together,” said Superintendent McCarthy. “I am extremely proud of not only our officers, but all the law enforcement personnel who contributed to bringing these alleged gang members to justice and making our streets a safer place.”
According to a 178-page affidavit in support of the federal arrests and search warrants, the investigation, which included extensive wiretaps, use of confidential sources, and surveillance, revealed that Herndon supplied crack cocaine to Harris, 34. If Herndon did not have crack, Harris obtained powder cocaine from other alleged suppliers, including EDUARDO ZAMUDIO, 27, and ROBERT RUSSELL, 48, and then converted it into crack. Harris, in turn, supplied the crack to JONATHAN GREEN, 27; FABIAN REDMOND, 28; JONATHAN O’LEARY, 30; and ANTWAION EDWARDS, 39, who allegedly were the drug spot managers. The managers oversaw the spot workers, including MARCUS LONGSTREET, 29; MANUEL MEEKS, 41; CAUIRENCE HERNDON, 34; DESHAWN RICHARDSON, 21; ANDREW JONES, 31; and PATRICIA NEAL, 35.
Johnny Herndon and other leaders of his organization also allegedly sold wholesale quantities of heroin and crack to other Gangster Disciples members, including KESHAW EUELL, 40, who controlled drug spots in the blocks surrounding their area. ROBERT SMITH, 59, was allegedly Herndon’s lead wholesale distributor of crack, selling up to several hundred grams at a time to various wholesale customers in Chicago and Indiana, including DARRYL JONES, 48; MILDRED SMITH, 59; and HARRY SMITH, 30. Another defendant, DARVEN MARION, 46, allegedly a Black Soul street gang member who had a close relationship with Herndon and Harris, was another wholesale supplier to Robert Smith.
Twelve federal defendants ― Johnny Herndon, Harris, Green, Redmond, O’Leary, Edwards, Longstreet, Meeks, Cauirence Herndon, Richardson, Jones, and Neal ― were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute crack cocaine. If convicted, they each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment and a $10 million fine.
Harris alone faces an additional maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on the felon-inpossession charge. The remaining federal defendants were charged with various drug distribution counts that carry maximum penalties of either 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine, or a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years and a $5 million fine.
The state defendants are: JOSE ESCALARA, 43; LANORIS HOLMAN, 48; DERRICK HUGHES, 53, of Bellwood; ARTURO LARA, 54, of Schaumburg; SAMMIE LOCKHART, 58; PAMERA LONG, 42; CHARLES MARKESE, 57; RUSSELL MORAVEC, 49; DEANGELO PERCY, 34; EARL SMITH, 28; SHAWN SMITH, 46; SHAUNTAH LANGFORD, 32; GENE McCAULLEY, 34; JERROLD SANDERS, 44; and MICHEAL STOKES, 29, all of Chicago unless otherwise noted.
Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher Grohman and Rajnath Laud are representing the government in the federal cases. Assistant State’s Attorney Rita O’Connor is handling the state cases.
The public is reminded that complaints 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.