Operation Outlaws: Chicago DEA Most Wanted

The ABC7 I-Team kicks off 'Operation Outlaws,' an exclusive arrangement with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to track down some of Chicago's top fugitives.
January 14, 2014 4:46:47 AM PST
The ABC7 I-Team is kicking off "Operation Outlaws," an exclusive arrangement with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to track down some of Chicago's top fugitives.

PHOTOS: Chicago DEA Most Wanted

The I-Team is on the trail of outlaws. Most of Chicago's biggest fugitives are wanted for drug crimes and the violent mayhem that goes along with them-- and some have been on the lam for years. On Monday night, the I-Team investigated one of the oldest cases, and one of the newest.

The DEA arrests more than 30,000 people every year, but this is about those who get away. Thousands of drug fugitives are wanted in the Midwest alone, with about 100 of them in metro Chicago considered armed and extremely dangerous.

For Jack Riley, special agent in charge of the Chicago DEA field office, the case of Thomas Gonzalez has been nagging him for nearly 20 years.

Gonzalez, shown with the moustache in a federal surveillance photo, was indicted in December 1995. According to federal authorities, he delivered a van filled with cocaine to a restaurant parking lot on the Southwest Side.

"We do know from intelligence information that he fled the country after his indictment. In fact, I can remember the night in which he almost killed a couple of police officers and agents trying to stop his car," said Jack Riley, DEA Chicago.

In 1995 in Detroit, US drug agents say they arrested some of Gonzalez's accomplices, but since federal agents announced the charges against Gonzalez and his gang nearly two decades ago, Gonzalez himself has been an outlaw.

"We just had information less than 6 weeks ago that he was seen several times here in Chicago. So, we're actively working those leads...He was a relatively young man when we got him and when we showed the photo to people they said he looks very much like that other than he's got some gray hair. So, this is a guy back doing business," said Riley.

From one of the oldest outlaw cases to the newest: Ignacio Torres. He walked out of the Dirksen Federal Building in early November, just before he was to surrender to the U.S. Marshal in a cocaine trafficking case. Prosecutors had just filed an emergency motion after learning that Torres threatened to kill a witness in the drug case that was centered on the Northwest Side.

"His bond was revoked and he was supposed to report to the Marshals and he decided to exit stage left. And he's now in the wind," said Riley.

Torres had been living in Logan Square. A nearby property owned by his parents was posted as bond.

"I would not be surprised knowing his ties to the community if he is not still in the vicinity of Chicago. I also think the longer time passes, if he is underground, he'll come out in the open again thinking he's avoided it. . .With fugitives, it's a marathon, not a sprint. We've got to stay with it," said Riley.

A big part of that race to catch fugitives is keeping their faces and cases in public. Operation Outlaws has posted an online photo gallery featuring 10 of the DEA'S Most Wanted fugitives-- and who to contact if you know where they are.

With drug gangs behind most of Chicago's 2,000 shootings a year, Operation Outlaws will be getting some regular attention around here.

Additional information:

Bio of Jack Riley
Special Agent in Charge-Chicago
Drug Enforcement Administration

U.S. DEA website: http://www.justice.gov/dea/index.shtml

Chicago DEA website: http://www.justice.gov/dea/divisions/chi/chi.shtml