7 Arrested In $22M Marijuana Bust

CHICAGO (CBS) — Seven men have been arrested in a $22 million drug bust, a case federal officials said is the largest single seizure ever of marijuana in the Chicago area.

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Federal officials estimated that nearly 11 tons of marijuana were packed into six railroad cars from Mexico that arrived at a warehouse in south suburban Chicago Heights earlier this month.

CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports that seven men were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute marijuana and were being held pending detention and preliminary hearings next week, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The defendants were identified as Carlos Osvaldo Quintero, 31, also known as “Carlos Gomez” and “Miguel Dominguez”; his father, Martin Quintero, 63, Felipe de Jesus Magana-Campos, 47, a.k.a. “Padrino”; Eduardo Angel Zalayaran-Ruiz, 54, a.k.a. “Other Inge”; Javier Vera, 24, a.k.a. “Ducky”; Christian Gonzalez, 24, a.k.a. “Chris”; and Miguel Cordova, 20, a.k.a. “Mike.”

“This historic drug seizure represents law enforcement partnership and cooperation at their best,” said Gary J. Hartwig, Special Agent-in-Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Chicago.

Federal prosecutors said that on Nov. 17, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers in Texas discovered that a Union Pacific train bound for Chicago Heights was carrying nearly 11 tons of marijuana.

Officers saw a large number of so-called “super sacks” of cannabis packed in six cars on the train.

A canine unit alerted officers to the presence of drugs on the train and officers opened one of the “super sacks” to find 13 bundles encrusted in masonry dust. When officers opened the bundles, they found marijuana packed inside.

However, shipping documents stated the sacks contained packages listed as “titanium pigments” and were being imported by a fake company in Rockdale, Ill., just south of Joliet.

Agents placed the marijuana back into the rail cars and sealed them and, with the railroad’s cooperation, tracked the train as it traveled to a storage warehouse in the 1200 block of South State Road in Chicago Heights.

One defendant, Carlos Osvaldo Quintero, allegedly spoke to a Union Pacific employee on several occasions to coordinate the delivery of the train cars to the warehouse.

From Dec. 6 through 10, the rail cars were unloaded using forklifts to load the packages onto a flatbed truck and then move the packages to a smaller storage facility near the warehouse.

If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of 10 years in prison for each charge and a maximum of life in prison and a $4 million fine.

Federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents were scheduled to discuss details of the case Thursday afternoon at a press conference at the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago.

  • KE

    Congratulations on the Bust!

  • rey

    Dat sucks!

  • FR

    If it was sold with a $ 1 per ounce tax, it would have generated $ 352000.00 in badly needed tex revenue.

  • curious

    What are they going to do with it?

    • Dave

      give it to me!

      so? when the legalize pot? are they going to let the potheads in jail go free?

  • Bob Hamilton

    Oh wait nevermind, it was just oregano. We could win the drug war overnight by legalizing and taxing all drugs. But that would make sense.

  • Bill Stearns

    That is a LIT of pot.

  • dpu1990

    Congrats to DHS/CBP and local police for this, and for keeping this garbage off the streets. Thanks!

  • Allan Franz

    Can You say “GREED ” ?

  • dot

    one down hundreds to go, just admit the basis for making it illegal was racially and politically motivated, it was a mistake, it was stupid and a huge waste of time, money and other resources. The only reason it’s illegal is because law enforcement and government would look like complete fools saying ” I guess we were wrong. sorry about the billions of dollars wasted on this thing”

  • weed man

    Damn it, i could have smoked that pot.

  • gabrielapena

    tengan piedad por DIOS de todas estas personas

  • Dave

    Marijuana is safer than alcohol:
    The CDC reported in 2009 that 79,000 people died in the US in from alcohol.
    443,000 people died as a result of tobacco.

    Marijuana has not hit the statistics for mortality as it is fairly benign.

    Recent reports peg the cost to the US taxpayer at around 42 Billion Dollars per year for marijuana prohibition

    Economist Jon Gettman estimates the value of the black market of marijuana to be around 113 Billion dollars annually. If this market were controlled and taxed the US taxpayers would reap around 31 Billion dollars while saving the 42 Billion in prohibition costs.

    42 Billion dollars:
    This equals 560,000 teachers
    This equals 100% clean solar power for almost 1,000,000 households
    This equals 5,982,905 – 4 year college degrees
    This equals 210,000,000 square feet of new bridge infrastructure

    The United States needs to stop wasting this money and start regulating and taxing marijuana to keep it out of the hands of children and build our society rather than tear it apart.

  • alliv

    You are right. children need more education about drugs, like alcohol, snuff, marijuana, etc.

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