CHICAGO (CBS)–More than 50 people involved in an alleged West Side drug ring tied to a Mexican drug cartel are charged with various offenses including kidnapping and firearms possession.
The arrests follow a months-long undercover investigation known by authorities as “Operation Full Circle.” The task force is headed by federal, state and local law agencies that work together to stop Chicago’s most serious drug trafficking organizations.
In conjunction with the state and federal arrests, officers seized of more than two kilograms of heroin, a kilogram of fentanyl, and 300 pounds of marijuana, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Drug enforcement officers also confiscated 17 illegal firearms, including three rifles; and approximately $8,000 in cash.
“This is a very significant investigation with a far reach to Mexico,” said Brian McKnight, the special agent in charge of Chicago’s DEA Field Division.
McKnight joined other federal and local law enforcement officials Tuesday to announce the charges.
“If people are dealing drugs or selling guns or illegally possessing guns, we’re going to find them, and we’re going to prosecute them,” said John Lausch, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
The drug ring bust stems from an intricate drug trafficking web tied to Mexico.
Authorities say the cartel’s leader, Krzysztof Rak, 60, of Mexico, worked with Christopher J. Doss, 47, of Racine, Wisc. to distribute wholesale quantities of fentanyl in the Chicago area.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 30-50 times more potent than heroin and 50-100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Doss allegedly brought the narcotics to Chicago and handed them off to 56-year-old Donald Holmes, Sr., of Chicago and 45-year-old Ivan Walton of Lynwood, who sold the narcotics on Chicago streets.
During a meeting last year in a south suburban restaurant parking lot, drug enforcement officers wiretapped Doss and Walton’s cell phones and listened as Doss allegedly handed Walton more than 880 grams of fentanyl.
Of the 57 arrests, nine face federal charges. Rak is still at large.
Other serious charges tied to the drug ring include a kidnapping plot involving Tekoa Q. Tinch, 30, of downstate Bloomington. He is alleged to have agreed to kidnap a victim in exchange for drugs and any money recovered during the kidnapping.
Tinch allegedly met an undercover officer posing as a member of the Mexican drug ring in a parking lot in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. During that meeting, he is alleged to have accepted cocaine as a down payment for the kidnapping.
Officers searched his vehicle and allegedly found firearms, duct tape and chains.
Makia McClinic, 43, of Chicago, is facing federal charges for allegedly delivering a supply of heroin and fentanyl to 24-year-old Deshawn Moore of Bellwood in a parking lot near the University of Illinois at Chicago in November 2017, according to court documents.
McClinic tried to flee when officers watching the transaction attempted to pull him over. He tossed the drugs from the window as he sped away, according to the charges. He was arrested a short time later and the discarded drugs were recovered, according to court documents.
Of the 48 people facing state charges, 22 are still at large, reports CBS 2’s Mai Martinez.
The probe was conducted under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), in cooperation with the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force (HIDTA).
“The federal help is huge because it just sends a message that we’re all in this fight together,” said Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson. “You know—one fight, one team.”