By Chris Tye

CHICAGO (CBS) — Cocaine, valued in the millions, was flown from Mexico into Gary, Indiana by private plane last week, and federal prosecutors on Tuesday told a judge how the cache found its way into Chicago’s Gold Coast.

CBS 2’s Chris Tye reports, three men have been charged. One suspect, Rodrigo Alexis Jimenez-Perez, an illegal immigrant with a history of misdemeanors related to drunk driving, said in court on Tuesday that he did not know he was driving a vehicle with 80 kilograms of cocaine inside.

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The judge denied bond, saying it was hard to believe that a multi-million dollar outfit would entrust that asset in the hands of someone who didn’t know it was there.

Private plane seized by law enforcement

Private plane seized by law enforcement. (Credit: U.S. Attorney’s Office)

This all started last Wednesday when a private plane landed at the Gary airport at 6:43 p.m. The flight from Toluca, Mexico stopped in Houston before arriving in Gary.

Bricks of cocaine seized from Toyota Highlander

Bricks of cocaine seized from Toyota Highlander. (Credit: U.S. Attorney’s Office)

Within eight minutes, luggage containing the cocaine, seen in photos taken by a federal surveillance team, was on its way into Gary’s Jet Center building, where a waiting Lincoln SUV would shuttle it and its carrier to the Gold Coast.

Prosecutors said Sebastian Vazquez-Gamez arrived on the plane at the Gary airport, and loaded the suitcases full of cocaine into the Navigator. He and others from the plane also rode the Lincoln to a Chicago hotel, prosecutors said.

Outside the hotel, Vazquez-Gamez loaded some of the suitcases into a Toyota Highlander sport-utility vehicle that Jimenez-Perez drove, prosecutors said.

Bricks of cocaine seized from hotel room

Bricks of cocaine seized from hotel room. (Credit: U.S. Attorney’s Office)

After the feds briefly lost the Lincoln, surveillance continued at The Tremont Chicago Hotel where they say Jimenez-Perez waited on word from Sergio Ivan Blas of Indianapolis. Prosecutors say he directed  Jimenez-Perez, of Columbus, Ind., to pick up the cocaine.

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The feds say Blas messaged Jimenez-Perez: “I know you are getting desperate/nervous/anxious.”

He told him the address of 100 East Chestnut, asking, “in how much time will you arrive.”

Jimenez-Perez replied, “10 minutes.”

At 9:15 p.m., the feds saw the luggage enter a Toyota Highlander driven, they say, by Jimenez-Perez.

At 9:23 p.m. agents arrested Jimenez-Perez in River North and seized 80 kilos of cocaine they say he had in the back.

Seconds later, according to the federal filing, Vazquez-Gamez, the Mexican national who ferried the drugs here was arrested. Vazquez-Gamez allowed the feds into his hotel room where they found inside the silver suitcase and the black duffel bag with the white Nike logo approximately 20 brick-shaped packages wrapped in black tape.

Blas, the man giving the instructions from Indiana, was arrested the last Thursday in the Indianapolis area.

A raid of his home revealed ledgers of transactions in the tens of thousands of dollars.

The feds say transactions started in June 2021 until at least on or about November 4, 2021 and that Blas “conspired to knowingly and intentionally possess with intent to distribute and distribute a controlled substance.”

The three men could face decades in prison if convicted.

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There is no evidence that anyone at the Chicago hotel or the Gary airport had anything to do with the multi-million dollar drug ring that stretched multiple countries and states.