Beach Park traffic stop leads to meth bust, gang arrest, 2nd drug bust in Chicago, sheriff's office says

BEACH PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- A Lake County Sheriff's K-9 helped uncover more than five pounds of meth during a traffic stop in Beach Park, which led to the arrest of a known street gang member and another drug bust in Chicago, authorities said.

Three men were stopped near Wadsworth Road and Green Bay Road in Beach Park Tuesday for a traffic infraction, according to the Lake County sheriff's office. During the stop, the deputy had his K-9 conduct a free-air sniff around the vehicle.

Authorities said a K-9 named Duke indicated towards the trunk of the car, prompting the deputy to search the vehicle. Inside, the deputy found five pounds of methamphetamine, over 700 grams of cocaine and over 20 grams of heroin. Additionally, a stolen firearm and a money counting machine were also discovered in the vehicle, the sheriff's office said.

Brandon Hidalgo-Flores, 23, and Efren Valadez, 28, both of Chicago, as well as Jose Lopez-Arellanes, 52, were arrested. Officials said Valadez is also a documented street gang member.

The sheriff's office said their Special Investigations Group conducted further investigations, uncovering information that led them to believe more drugs were at an apartment in the 1900 block of Drake Avenue in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood.

After obtaining and executing a search warrant for the address, officials seized nearly two more pounds of meth, over 250 grams of heroin and more than 40 grams of cocaine, oxycodone pills, morphine pills, another gun and a device they say is commonly used to "cut" drugs and repackage them into kilogram bricks.

Each man is facing at least six charges ranging from manufacturing and delivering drugs, to possession of drugs, obstruction of justice and possession of a stolen firearm. All three are being held on a $500,000 bond.

Hidalgo-Flores is expected to be in court on August 31, followed by Lopez-Arellanes on September 1, and Valadez on September 2.
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