Chicago West Side gang investigation among federal, local law enforcement results in 24 charged

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Federal, state and local law enforcement officials announced charges in a "significant" gang investigation Friday morning.

Twenty four people are facing federal charges after an an investigation targeting two street gangs prosecutors say are responsible for firearms offenses, narcotics trafficking and violence on the West Side of Chicago.

During the investigation, dubbed "Operation Full Circle," federal, state and local law enforcement officers worked together to seize 34 firearms, more than 6.7 kilograms of heroin, more than 17 kilograms of cocaine, more than a kilogram of fentanyl, approximately 50 grams of crack cocaine, 200 pounds of marijuana and more than $1.3 million in cash and jewelry allegedly purchased with narcotics trafficking proceeds. Much of the alleged firearms offenses, drug trafficking, and violence occurred in the Austin neighborhood.

Many of the federal defendants were arrested Thursday, and detention hearings will be held next week in federal court in Chicago.

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Law enforcement officials announced charges in a "significant" gang investigation Friday morning.

Seven federal defendants are charged in a complaint that describes a drug trafficking organization in which the defendants worked together to distribute drugs, and two of the seven defendants are also charged with firearms offenses. The defendants are: James Harris, 51, of Berkley, Patrick Turner, 52, of Bellwood, Gregory Hopkins, 50, of Chicago, Larnell Pillow, 51, of Chicago, Rickey Griffin, 51, of South Holland, Eric Berger, 53, of Chicago, and Reginald Richmond, 29, of Sunrise Terrace.

According to the complaint, in April, Harris, wearing his Chicago Transit Authority work uniform, met with Turner to acquire heroin. Federal and state law enforcement officers seized the heroin from Harris outside of Turner's residence, the complaint alleges. The complaint also alleges that in April, law enforcement officers seized a firearm from Griffin, who could not lawfully possess a firearm because of prior felony convictions.

As part of the investigation, three federal defendants were previously in United States v. Morgan et al. In that case, Deshawn Morgan, 37, of Chicago, Darius Murphy, 20, of Chicago, and Demond Brown, 26, of Chicago were charged by indictment for their alleged role in a murder-for-hire conspiracy in 2018 that resulted in the murder of an individual. All three defendants are in federal custody awaiting trial.

Donald Lee, 47, of Chicago, is charged in three indictments. Lee and two other individuals-Jamar Spencer, 34, of Chicago, and Terrence Jenkins, 52, of Chicago-are charged with firearms offenses. Lee and Creavon Curry, 25, of Chicago, are charged with firearms. Lee is also charged with firearms and narcotics offenses.

Two other federal defendants and Spencer are charged with Larry Jones, 39, of Broadview, Marsha Fountain, 48, of Plainfield, and Spencer with conspiracy to distribute heroin.

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Enrique Fuentes-Ortiz, 45, of Chicago, is charged with firearms and narcotics offenses.

As part of the investigation, three other federal defendants are charged in separate indictments with firearms offenses: Deshon George, 26, of Chicago; Dante Dockett, 42, of Chicago; and Derrius Burns, 27, of Chicago.

Daniel Cerpa, 41, of Elmhurst, and Wilfredo Gomez, 48, of Chicago are charged in a fentanyl and heroin trafficking conspiracy.

Marshaw Ranson, 40, of Chicago, is charged with fentanyl trafficking, as well as money laundering offenses.

Jesse Ochoa, 38, of Chicago, is charged with narcotics offenses.

The firearms, narcotics and money laundering charges in the indictments and complaint carry maximum penalties of between 10 years and life imprisonment. The murder-for-hire charges carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison, while a sentence of death is also possible. Only the Attorney General of the United States has the authority to seek the death penalty. If convicted, the court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch, Jr., Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown and members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Drug Enforcement Administration; IRS Criminal Investigation; and Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program were involved in the 10:30 a.m. announcement at the Dirksen Federal Building.
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