Multiple Defendants Charged in Federal Investigation that Dismantled Telephone Drug Hotline in Chicago
CHICAGO — Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Robert J. Bell announced that more than 26 individuals have been charged with various narcotics trafficking or firearms offenses as part of a federal investigation into illegal activities on the West Side of Chicago. As part of the investigation, law enforcement shut down a telephone drug hotline, according to a criminal complaint recently unsealed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Over a three-month period this summer, law enforcement made two dozen undercover purchases of fentanyl-laced heroin and crack cocaine from the defendants’ drug trafficking operation, according to the complaint. In addition to shutting down the phone line used by the defendants to coordinate sales, law enforcement also seized narcotics, a drug mixer, and multiple firearms during a court-authorized search of a stash house in the 800 block of South Karlov Avenue in Chicago, the charges allege.
The complaint unsealed on Nov. 10, 2020, charges 13 defendants with drug conspiracy. Twelve of those defendants were arrested and have begun making initial appearances in federal court. One defendant remains at large, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
The federal investigation previously resulted in related drug or firearm charges this summer and fall against more than 13 other defendants.
The results of the investigation were announced today by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert J. Bell, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Kristen deTineo, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and David Brown, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Substantial assistance in the investigation was provided by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, and IRS Criminal Investigation Division. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kalia Coleman, Katie Durick, Prashant Kolluri, and Ramon Villalpando, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elena Gottreich and Deborah Shutter.
The investigation was conducted with the support of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force (HIDTA) programs. The task forces are comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies who work together to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations.
“These arrests send a clear message that anyone who sells dangerous drugs on the streets of Chicago faces the full weight of federal law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch. “Our office will continue to focus on individuals and groups who distribute fentanyl-laced drugs – a gravely potent mix – and prosecute those offenders in federal court.”
“This cooperative investigation targeted the distribution of narcotics, including heroin mixed with potentially lethal fentanyl, and violence in the East Garfield Park in Chicago,” said DEA SAC Bell. “DEA Chicago is committed with our federal, state, and local partners to combat drug trafficking and associated drug related violence across the city and region.”
“Partnerships among local, state, and federal law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies is a force multiplier, focusing resources to stop violent crime including firearms and narcotics trafficking,” said ATF SAC deTineo. “When law enforcement works together, as illustrated in this operation, the impact is visible throughout the communities of Chicago.”
“I am extremely proud of the partnership CPD has with our state and federal colleagues,” said CPD Supt. Brown. “Working together makes Chicago a safer city. Criminal networks that plague our city will not survive. This multi-defendant, complex operation is an example of that commitment. I also wish to thank those community members that assist law enforcement with valuable information every day. This cooperative effort is how we will improve public safety in Chicago.”
According to the newly unsealed complaint, Dexstin Bryant, 31, of Chicago, operated and managed the drug trafficking organization on the West Side of Chicago, with assistance from Tremaine Brent, 32, of Chicago. Drug dealers in Bryant’s organization used the phone line to arrange deliveries of narcotics to customers, the complaint states. Each dealer worked a shift on the phone to receive calls and organize the sales, the charges allege. The complaint charges eleven alleged dealers, all of whom reside in Chicago: Tevin Alverio, 26; Jarvis Blair, 36; Enrique Hollins, 23, who remains at large; Sharonda Hosey, 20; Justin Johnson, 19; Tyjuan Mcdowell, 32; Rikita Mitchell, 34; Allen Washington, 27; Paul Wilkins, 64; Dorothy Williams, 54; and Ina Williams, 38.
The previously charged cases include Chicago residents Kendrick Pepper, 29, and Lamont Haggard, who allegedly distributed large quantities of heroin and crack cocaine in Chicago; Carlton Harris, 28, who allegedly illegally possessed a handgun on May 8, 2020, in Chicago; Lacjon Link, 30, Kelvin Ross, 39, and Willie Ross, 60, who allegedly distributed more than 400 grams of fentanyl-laced heroin in Chicago; Ernest Russell, 35, Devon Lee, 22, Wonshon Donahue, 21, Demarlon Carroll, 34, Ernest Ross, 62, Shauntrell Harris, 31, and Oshay Kelley, 26, who allegedly distributed heroin, fentanyl, or crack cocaine in Chicago; and the alleged owner of the drug stash house, Johnnie Grant, 32.
The public is reminded that charges contain only accusations and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.