10 facing charges in massive retail fencing operation bust after $7.5M in stolen goods recovered

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, November 3, 2022
$7.5M of stolen goods recovered, massive retail fencing operation uncovered
Two hundred seventy thousand-plus items are being stored pending trial in floor to ceiling palettes.

WILL COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- Ten people are facing charges for a multi-state, organized criminal retail theft fencing operation involving an estimated $7.5 million in products, Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow announced Thursday.

The video featured is from a previous report.

Retail thefts in Wilmette led to the identifications of the fencing ring and a multi-jurisdictional investigation linked ongoing retails thefts in Shorewood and Will County, according to officials.

The yearlong undercover investigation involved at least nine agencies, including Homeland Security, Illinois State Police and California Highway Patrol. Private sector retail crime units from Kroger, CVS, Target and Walgreens also assisted in the criminal investigation.

Multiple search warrants executed last month in Chicago, Cicero, Oak Lawn, Bolingbrook and three others in California, led law enforcement to recover an estimated $7.5 million worth of retail products and evident of a "sophisticated criminal enterprise," officials said.

RELATED: Police: $7.5M of stolen goods recovered, massive retail fencing operation uncovered

Wilmette police said they have more than 270,000 stolen good items including over the counter medication, beauty products and more form the cross-country ring.

The year-long investigation began in Wilmette with what police initially thought was a simple retail theft, over the counter medication stolen from a local drug store. Officers said they discovered where the medication was being illegally fenced.

"Which then led us to physical surveillance, and we were able to determine that this was a much larger operation than we originally anticipated," said Village of Wilmette Police Chief Kyle Murphy said in October.

Iaad Hamad, Hani Hamad, Markell Spencer, Michael Beals, Fekeisha Hamlin, Dylan Bryant, Brett Pendleton, Ahmed Salem, Donald Kimball and Arthur Blair all face a range of charges including theft, money laundering and fraud.