SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - Twenty-four people have been charged by federal authorities with using Amtrak trains to transport drugs from Los Angeles to Chicago.
The indictments allege wholesale quantities of cocaine and heroin, obtained from Mexico and Southern California, were transported from Los Angeles to Union Station aboard Amtrak Express trains, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The drugs were sometimes concealed in automobile parts and pool filters, and some of the defendants put GPS tracking devices inside the parcels to track them, federal prosecutors said.
Some of the defendants also used FedEx to transport drugs from the Los Angeles area to hotels and other locations in Chicago, prosecutors said.
The drugs were then sold throughout the area, with some of the profits allegedly laundered back to Southern California.
During a multi-year investigation called Operation Derailed, authorities confiscated more than 60 kilograms of cocaine, more than 30 grams of heroin, a kilogram of fentanyl, five handguns, two rifles, and more than $1.8 million in cash, prosecutors said. The charges also seek forfeiture of another $9.3 million.
Chicago residents Angelica Cervantes, 31; Juan J. Cervantes, 30; and Martell Jackson, 33, were all charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, prosecutors said. Jesus Valencia, 34, was charged with attempting to possess with intent to distribute.
One defendant, 45-year-old Roy J. Griffin of Calumet City, is an Amtrak employee who stole a package of cocaine when it arrived at Union Station on July 31, 2014, prosecutors said. He and his 43-year-old acquaintance, Daniel Douglas of Blue Island, were charged with theft of goods from a railroad car and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.
The other defendants live in California and Colorado, prosecutors said.
The arraignments and initial court appearances for the 24 defendants have not been scheduled, prosecutors said.