27 charged in 'Heroin Highway' drug sting allegedly run by Kenneth Shoulders

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27 people were charged Thursday in connection with a West Side drug sting. (WLS)

An alleged gang leader and drug distributor and 26 others face federal and state charges in connection with a drug sting in Chicago's so-called "Heroin Highway" on the West Side, officials said.

Federal agents began arrests in the investigation early Thursday morning after investigators executed eight search warrants at several defendants' residences as well as four alleged stash houses. Eight handguns, an AR15 assault rifle, $140,000, some cocaine and almost a half-kilogram of heroin were seized, officials said.

Kenneth Shoulders, 47, allegedly controlled distribution of narcotics in an area immediately north of Douglas Park and south of I-290, known as the "Heroin Highway," according to the affidavit. An individual in a related gang told investigators that Shoulders was a high-ranking member of the Conservative Vice Lords street gang, officials said.

Shoulders' sister, Sandra; his son, Kenneth Williams; and Derrick Washington worked with Shoulders, officials said. They were also charged in the case.

Shoulders' main heroin distribution operation was located in the 200-block of South Lavergne Avenue, officials said. According to an affidavit, Williams allegedly ran a distribution center at the corner of West Fillmore and South Francisco, and there were several stash locations.

"This investigation was initiated in response to numerous citizen complaints, and now because of it those citizens can live without the threat of illegal activity holding their neighborhood hostage," said Chicago Police First Deputy Supt. Al Wysinger as Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon announced the charges Thursday.

The following face federal charges for conspiracy to possess and distribute heroin: Shoulders; Sandra Shoulders; Williams; Washington; Anthony Hayes; Harrison Hall; Tiara White; Marleana Porter; and Crane Marks.

The following face state charges for delivery of a controlled substance: Charles Weathersby; Jim Dunbar; Amos Hadley; David Higgs; Deonte Hollingworth; Paris Holmes; John Perry; Nikki Sanders; Milton Taylor; Antwone Washington; Nathaniel Yancey; Shardell Green; and Antwone Henry.

Rodney Bendenfield was charged with supplying heroin to the organization. Marc Davis allegedly supplied heroin to Bendenfield along with Queenie Vargas, an alleged courier.

Dorian Miller and Jewnus Wilson were charged with being heroin customers of Bendenfield.

Federal defendants are scheduled to begin appearing in court Thursday at 3 p.m.

"To the bad guys out there, hey, we're coming," said Jack Riley of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. "This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we're in it for the long haul."
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