Chicago Black Disciples gang leader among 23 charged in federal investigation, officials say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An alleged Chicago gang leader is among 23 individuals facing criminal charges as part of a federal investigation into drug and gun trafficking on the city's South Side.

The defendants were arrested Tuesday after a multi-year investigation, according to the Northern District of Illinois U.S. Attorney's Office.

The arrests come as federal authorities beef up their presence in Chicago to target violent crime.

"We're here to announce a big win the big win for our team and for the people of the Southside of Chicago," said Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown.

"The two dozen individuals that were arrested are arrested for serious crime. They promoted violence. They promoted drug activity," said Emerson Buie, Chicago FBI Special Agent in Charge

Among those arrested is Darnell McMiller, 34, of Chicago, also known as "Murder." McMiller is described in the charges as the current leader of the Black Disciples street gang in Chicago.

Several other alleged high-ranking members of the Black Disciples were also charged and arrested; including Clarence January, who allegedly leads the gang's "Dog Pound" factions; Kenneth Browns, who allegedly supplied the gang with drugs for distribution in Chicago; as well as Charles Knight, an alleged high-ranking member of the Gangster Disciples street gang, who is charged as part of the probe with supplying narcotics to McMiller's crew.

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Mayor Lightfoot said she's been told the federal agents coming to Chicago will work with local authorities on anti-violence, not target peaceful protests as in Portland, Ore.



Law enforcement also seized 24 firearms, more than 13 kilograms of cocaine, more than a kilogram of heroin, approximately 1,350 grams of heroin laced with fentanyl, approximately 750 grams of fentanyl or fentanyl analogue, approximately 378 grams of crack cocaine, $52,595 in suspected illicit cash proceeds, and distribution quantities of suspected MDMA pills.

Much of the alleged drug and gun trafficking occurred in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, according to officials.

The FBI and Chicago Police Department led the investigation, with assistance from ATF, DEA, IRS Criminal Investigation Division, the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force and the FBI Windy City Task Force. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin also contributed to the investigation after unsealing an eight-person indictment this week, charging heroin trafficking offenses related to the case.

WATCH: Police provide more details on federal investigation arrests
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Officials give details regarding a federal investigation that resulted in the indictment of 23 men, including a Chicago Black Disciples gang leader.



The Black Disciples are a national street gang that is prevalent throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, the U.S. Attorney's Office says.

According to the charges, members of the Black Disciples have been distributing narcotics and guns in the Englewood neighborhood and other parts of Chicago. The charges describe more than 50 illicit transactions in which alleged Black Disciples members sold guns or drugs to individuals who were cooperating with law enforcement.

In many instances, the cooperating individuals surreptitiously video-recorded the transaction at the direction of law enforcement, officials say.

McMiller is accused of conspiring with Knight, 56, of Riverdale, to distribute fentanyl-laced heroin to a cooperating individual on Sept. 30, 2019, in the 7000-block of South Lowe Avenue, according to the complaint.

Brown, 59, of Chicago, is charged with conspiring with alleged Black Disciple member Terrence Morris, 48, of Chicago, to distribute heroin in March 2019. During the investigations, law enforcement says they carried out a court-authorized search of a South Side storage unit rented by Brown, where they found 13 kilograms of cocaine individually wrapped in sealed packages, the charges state.

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Three people have been charged with federal offenses as part of "Operation Legend," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.



January, 27, of Chicago, is accused of trafficking three handguns in the summer of 2019. He had previously been convicted in Cook County for a felony firearm offense and was not lawfully allowed to possess the guns. Several other convicted felons were also charged with unlawfully possessing firearms, including rifles and a shotgun furnished to members of the Black Disciples.

Others charged include Alonzo Brooks, 49, of Chicago; Shongo Collier, 48, of Riverdale; Lawrence Draus, 41, of Crestwood; Fredrick Stewart, 47, of Chicago; Tony Redding, 44, of Chicago; Ramont Austin, 39, of Chicago; Franklin Redding, 46, of Chicago; Barry Mckiel, 49, of Chicago; Brian Billups, 49, of Plainfield; Joseph Anderson, 43, of Chicago; Santana Steele, 36 of Chicago; Antoine McDaniels, 44, of Chicago; Deandre Martin, 32, of Chicago; Willie Alford, 45, of Chicago; Travis Washington, 24, of Chicago; Wendell Kemp, 55, of Chicago; Shawn Hudson, 48 of Harvey; and John Ector, 47, of Chicago.

The charges range from various drug and firearm offenses to bank fraud charges, according to law enforcement.

This operation is the kind authorities hope to do more of as part of "Operation Legend," the effort that is bringing more federal resources to Chicago.

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"Operation Legend will not flood Chicago neighborhoods with uniformed agents and will not be used blindly to maximize the number of arrests. Rather, we will thoughtfully and strategically target violent offenders whose criminal behavior poses danger to the residents of Chicago," said Bob Bell, Chicago DEA Special Agent in Charge

US Attorney John Lausch says Operation Legend should lead to more announcements, but their success will not be measured in arrests, but by how much they can help reduce the shootings and murders in Chicago.
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