More than 50 charged in drug raids targeting West Side

- More than 50 people are facing federal or state charges for their roles in selling heroin and cocaine on the West Side, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

A joint federal and state task force uncovered suspects participating in a narcotics-distribution organization in the North Lawndale neighborhood run by members of the Traveling Vice Lords street gang, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement Thursday.

More than 40 of the suspects will face charges in state court, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Eleven suspects face charges in federal court.

The investigation, dubbed “Operation Shut Travel Down,” spanned more than a year and uncovered criminal activity through wiretapped cell phones, undercover narcotics purchases and extensive surveillance, the U.S. attorney’s office said. It resulted in the seizure of ten firearms, more than 3,500 grams of heroin, more than 550 grams of cocaine and crack cocaine, and more than 2,000 grams of methamphetamine.

Law enforcement officers began making arrests Thursday morning, the U.S. attorney’s office said. It also executed search warrants at two alleged drug stash houses, including a barbershop in the 900 block of South Western Avenue.

The barbershop’s owner, 38-year-old Tyrone Hunter, of Chicago, is a ranking member of the gang and described as a drug supplier and sales supervisor, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The operation’s other supervisor was identified as 32-year-old Anthony Williams, of Chicago, the U.S. attorney’s office said. He was observed conducting numerous drug deals and repeatedly sold narcotics to an undercover officer during the investigation.

The investigation charged numerous gang members with overseeing the drug deals, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Calvin Williams, 41, of Chicago, was charged with overseeing cocaine and heroin distribution near the intersection of California Avenue and Harrison Street.

Several gang members were charged with overseeing street-level drug distribution, including 24-year-old Demetrius Yancy, of Chicago; 39-year-old Ricky Brooks, of Chicago; 46-year-old Jerome Choice, of Chicago; 34-year-old Terrance Brooks, of Chicago; and 53-year-old Atkins Williams, of Chicago, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Sir Charles Bland, 38, of Bolingbrook, and Salvador Rojas-Santos, 63, of Mexico, were both charged with supplying heroin and cocaine to Hunter and Williams for distribution, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

John Anthony, 40, of Chicago, was also charged with distributing heroin to undercover officers multiple times in 2016, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Of the eleven suspects facing federal charges, seven face cocaine and heroin distribution charges, the U.S. attorney’s office said. One suspect is charged with possession with intent to distribute and possession of a weapon by an illegal alien, and another is charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

The federal defendants began making initial court appearances Thursday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney I. Schenkier, the U.S. attorney’s office said. The state defendants will appear later in Cook County Criminal Court.

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