Police find $1.5M worth of heroin, $5M cash

July 5, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Flags flew and children played on a block Monday that has a fair number of long-time residents. They have long come to regard their Kelvyn Park neighborhood as stable and friendly.

"I can't believe it," said Juan Morales, resident.

What's unbelievable to Morales, who has lived in the neighborhood for 39 years, is that just a couple doors down in the top floor of a three flat and in the garage out back police would find 10 kilograms of heroin, packaged up and ready for distribution. Its street value is $1.5 million.

"This heroin was destined to be sold by the Chicago street gangs on the North Side and in Cicero," said Commander Jim O'Grady, Chicago Police.

It was, police say, Mexican cartel heroin, meant to be sold and distributed by the Latin Kings street gang.

Police also found bundles and bundles of cash in heat sealed plastic bags - $5 million in cash, police say.

"Eliminating the sale and distribution of these drugs in our communities has immeasurable impact," said Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis.

Typically when an apartment is used as a drug transfer point, the drugs and money are not kept in the same location. This time, they did.

"We believe because of the holiday weekend, it was just one of those times where the money and narcotics were in the same location at the same time, which is very unusual," said O'Grady.

There was but one person in the third floor apartment when police arrived. He's considered a 'mule.' Charges against him are pending.

"A lot of times it'll be one person basically working in shifts guarding the money," said Dep. Supt. Nick Roti, Chicago Police.

"I know people on the first and second floor and they are really nice people," said Jesus Garcia, neighbor.

Garcia has lived here for 24 years, and what astounds him and others is the absence of suspicious comings and goings.

"You can trust nobody. If you see somebody getting new people...you can trust nobody," said Morales.

The heroin discovery on the Northwest Side may be an illustration of what Roosevelt University researchers in Chicago recently found in a study. Their conclusion is that heroin abuse has worsened over the last decade in Chicago. That's based in part on the number of emergency room cases of heroin overdoses. Researchers say that that number is higher in Chicago now than anywhere else in the country.

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