Cook County Sheriff busts man accused of smuggling guns into Chicago only for him to get out on bond

Lucio Chavez released on $30,000 bond 2 days before Safe-T Act took effect, eliminating Illinois cash bond

Liz Nagy Image
Saturday, September 23, 2023
Cook County Sheriff busts man accused of smuggling guns into Chicago only for him to get out on bond
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is frustrated Lucio Chavez, accused of smuggling a cache of guns into Chicago, has walked free on $30,000 bond.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart spoke exclusively with ABC7 about how his team caught a man smuggling guns into Chicago from out of state, and how frustrated he is that he's no longer in custody.

The Cook County Sheriff's specialized gun team netted a collection of long AR-15-style rifles, a self-made and untraceable ghost gun, and handguns with multiple extended magazines on September 14 in Humboldt Park. Dart said the street firearms are quickly customizable to be made into warfare weapons.

"You add that to one of these magazines and there's really no mystery why there are so many people being shot all the time," he said.

Dart said his team traced a tip about an out of state gun shipment arriving in Humboldt Park. Inside a car with plate from the East Coast, deputies said 20-year-old Lucio Chavez had stashed an entire cache of high powered artillery.

"It was clear when this person was arrested that these guns were destined for the streets of Chicago," Dart said.

According to Dart, Cook County deputies break records each year in the number of illegal guns seized off the streets. In 2022, deputies collected 960.

"We all know the only way this is going to stop is if we get people who are trafficking guns in custody," he said.

After the arrest, Cook County prosecutors leveled a long list of aggravated unlawful use of weapons charges against Chavez, one count for every piece, but he wasn't charged with trafficking.

Chavez appeared in court on Saturday, September 16, and walked out of jail on $30,000 bond, two days before the state's Safe-T Act took effect.

The Safe-T Act eliminates cash bail in Illinois, but gives judges the option to order potentially violent offenders detained as they wait to go to trial.

"When you're caught bringing 10 guns, assault weapons, ghost guns, drum magazines from another state here to spread through our community. I don't understand the debate about how that person should be walking the streets, how that person should not be locked up until trial," Dart said.

Public defenders argue the justice system is working as it should.

"You have to consider the individual and you have to go and consider what the person did, but also the background," said Lester Finkle, former public defender.

Chavez has no criminal history in Cook County, and while he awaits trial deputies are now working to trace the origin of the cache of guns he is charged with driving into Chicago.