Lake County MEG News Articles

NORTH CHICAGO MAN GETS 15-YEAR-SENTENCE IN SHOOTING DEATH


News-Sun
February 6, 2017

February 2017 - A North Chicago man initially charged with murder pleaded guilty to aggravated battery with a firearm in exchange for a 15-year prison term under a plea deal approved Monday in Lake County Circuit Court.

Jayquan Duffie, 23, had previously pleaded not guilty to the aggravated battery with a firearm charge and two counts of murder in the shooting death of Antonio Jackson, 31, of Waukegan. In exchange for his guilty plea, the murder counts were dropped under the negotiated deal approved by Circuit Judge Victoria Rossetti.

According to Luis Rivera, head of investigations for the North Chicago Police Department, the two men were involved in an argument following a Fourth of July party in the 1400 block of Martin Luther King Drive. Jackson died after being shot in the head. After canvassing the area and interviewing several people, police said witnesses identified Duffie as the shooter. Authorities said Jackson, who was shot in the driver's seat of his car outside the home where the party had taken place, was also armed with a gun and had been in a verbal and physical altercation with Duffie's mother prior to the shooting. Jackson was pronounced dead at the scene.

Duffie must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence, and is not qualified for day-for-day good time credit, Rossetti said. She also said he will serve three years of supervised release after his prison term has been completed. Duffie will be given credit toward the sentence for the 580 days he has spent in Lake County jail since his arrest.

Immediately following the incident, officers with the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group (MEG) assisted North Chicago police in the investigation, Rivera said, and it was determined that the shooting did not appear to be gang- or drug-related.

Rivera said Duffie was taken into custody in North Chicago after a two-day search involving officers from North Chicago, MEG and the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force.

News-Sun story

 

MAN SURRENDERS TO WAUCONDA POLICE FOLLOWING 8-HOUR STANDOFF


Chicago Tribune
Daily Herald
January 31, 2017

January 2017 - A man who doused an Wauconda residence with gasoline in a domestic dispute was taken into custody early Tuesday following an eight-hour standoff that snarled traffic in the area, Wauconda police report.

According to a statement released before dawn Tuesday, the man surrendered to tactical-team officers in the front yard of the Bonner Road home around 12:55 a.m. and was transported to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington for a psychological evaluation.

Police report the incident began around 4:40 p.m. Monday when officers were dispatched to a domestic incident in progress between a man and his parents in a residence in the 600 block of Bonner Road, about a mile east of Route 12. According to the statement, officers were met on the driveway by the man's parents, who said he had cut himself and poured gasoline throughout the residence. Following his evaluation at Good Shepherd Hospital, the man was charged with two counts of reckless conduct and two counts of aggravated assault. He was released after posting ten percent of the $75,000 bond.

Wauconda police report their staff was aided by the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, Illinois State Police, the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, and the Wauconda Fire District.

Chicago Tribune story

Daily Herald story


BUFFALO GROVE EX-COP ACCUSED OF CANNABIS POSSESSION, OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT


Lake County News-Sun
Chicago Sun-Times
December 16, 2015

December 2015 - A former Buffalo Grove officer faces corruption and drug possession charges after she allegedly passed information about an undercover officer to a felon, according to court records.

In October, Lauren Greenwood, 27, of Mundelein, passed information she acquired on her job to the man "with the intent to obstruct or impede" his prosecution, according to a warrant. She also used a law enforcement database to look up an undercover police vehicle and then passed information to the man, court records allege.

She was arrested Tuesday, December 15th, after an investigation, led by the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, and a search of her home turned up a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to a police news release.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Greenwood was held on a $250,000 bond at the Lake County Jail on two counts of official misconduct, as well as charges she possessed marijuana and paraphernalia. Greenwood resigned from her position as a patrol officer with the Buffalo Grove Police Department on November 17. She faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Click here for the News-Sun story.

Click here for the Sun-Times story.

CHICAGO MAN ARRESTED AFTER LARGE HEROIN SEIZURE


May 2013 - A Chicago man was arrested for one of the largest heroin seizures in Lake County, IL. Barrett Investigation arrested three subjects and seized over 166 grams of heroin after a month long investigation.

TEEN AFTER TRADING HANDGUNS FOR HEROIN


May 2013 - Underage drinking: Three teenagers were arrested Sept. 16 around 8:45 p.m. near Route 21 and Aptakisic Road after a call of drunken teenagers; two were sent to the hospital with a possible drug overdose. Scott Clemens, 18, of 12 Parkside Court, No. 10 of Vernon Hills; Dmitry Melandovich, 19, of 348 Inverrary Lane, Deerfield; and David Nudelman, 19, of 373 Dogwood Terrace, Buffalo Grove, were all arrested for unlawful consumption of alcohol by a minor. Police believed Melandovich and Nudelman may also have ingested controlled substances and they were taken to the hospital for medical treatment, police said. Melandovic was later charged for trading four handguns and a machine gun for 14 grams of heroin from an LCMEG undercover agent.

ROUND LAKE MAN CHARGED WITH DRUG INDUCED HOMICIDE IN FATAL OVERDOSE


February 2013 - A Round Lake man has been charged with drug induced homicide for selling the heroin that killed the 20-year-old victim, authorities said Friday. Byron Sullivan, 21, of the 1100 block of East End Drive, faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty, Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Jason Grindel said. Bail was set at $1 million.

Sullivan was contacted by Libertyville resident Tim McCann, who requested heroin via text message on Jan. 31, Grindel said. Sullivan purchased the heroin from an unknown person in Waukegan, then delivered the drug to McCann between 6 and 7 p.m. that day, Grindel said. McCann was found a short time later in the basement of his home surrounded by needles, syringes and other items used to inject heroin, Grindel said.

McCann was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, here he died at 9:08 p.m., Lake County Chief Deputy Coroner Orlando Portillo said.

Grindel said in bond court that at the time of the heroin sale to McCann, Sullivan was on probation for unlawful possession of a controlled substance due to a 2010 arrest. He was scheduled to end his probation in March, court records show.

NORTH CHICAGO MAN GETS PRISON IN FATAL OVERDOSE


Article updated: 9/1/2011

A North Chicago man was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday after admitting he provided the heroin that killed an Antioch woman.Sederls Williams, 33, pleaded guilty to delivery of a controlled substance during a hearing before Lake County Circuit Judge John Phillips. Assistant State’s Attorney Suzanne Willett said Williams, of the 1000 block of Glenn Drive, sold the heroin to Lindsey Smith, 22, on June 12, 2010. Smith was found unresponsive later that day in a room at the Sunset Motel, 267 Route 173, and an autopsy determined she had died of a heroin overdose. Antioch police and agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group interviewed people who had been seen with Smith that day, and those people identified Williams. Williams was arrested Sept. 22, and was also charged with drug-induced homicide in the case. Willett said she agreed to drop the more serious charge in exchange for Williams’ guilty plea. Smith’s family, who were in the courtroom Thursday, had approved the negotiation, Willett added. Williams had been held on $350,000 bond since his arrest.

SECOND MAN GUILTY IN POT PLANE CASE



By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald
June 29,2011

The second of two California brothers accused of flying an airplane carrying 170 pounds of marijuana into Lake County pleaded guilty Tuesday.Just as his brother did earlier this month, Nicholas Fejer, 23, agreed to testify against the Aurora man accused of setting up and financing the May 4 deal.Nicholas Fejer and Michael Fejer, 27, both of Oceanside, Cal., were arrested by agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group shortly after the twin-engine Beech Baron landed at Waukegan Regional Airport.The plane contained eight pieces of luggage containing 170 pounds of marijuana. Nicholas Fejer said the pot was loaded into the plane on May 3 by himself, his brother and Brian Daugherty of Aurora.When he pleaded guilty June 2, Michael Fejer said Daugherty had purchased the marijuana and had given him $70,000 of the $90,000 purchase price of the airplane.After arresting the Fejers, MEG agents waited until Daugherty arrived at the airport carrying keys to the hanger where the plane was parked and took him into custody.Assistant State’s Attorney Suzanne Willett said police found $500,000 in cash in Daugherty’s car after he was arrested.Nicholas Fejer pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison when he returns to court Aug. 26.His brother accepted a similar offer from prosecutors. Charges of marijuana trafficking against both were dropped in exchange for the guilty pleas.Daugherty, 30, of the 1000 block of Chelsea Lane, has pleaded not guilty to marijuana trafficking and possession charges and faces up to 60 years in prison.Willett said Michael Fejer posted $30,000 in cash and has returned to California to await his Aug. 26 court date. Daugherty posted $100,000 cash for bond shortly after his arrest and is due in court July 21.Nicholas Fejer is held in the Lake County jail on $100,000 bond..

PROSECUTORS:PLANE CARRIED CARGO OF MARIJUANA


By Ruth Fuller | Special to the Tribune
May 10, 2011

Lake County authorities say they have seized a private plane that was carrying 170 pounds of marijuana when it landed in Waukegan from California, and three men have been charged in a plot to distribute the pot.
Michael Fejer, 27, of Oceanside, Cal., who authorities said owned and piloted the plane, appeared this morning before Lake County Circuit Judge Raymond Collins, who agreed to reduce Fejer’s bond from $1 million to $750,000. Fejer and his brother, Nicholas Fejer, 23, also of Oceanside, flew into Waukegan Regional Airport at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, carrying the shipment of pot whose value was estimated at $500,000 to $1 million, Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Suzanne Willett said. Michael Fejer, 27, of California charged with drug trafficking and unlawful possession of a controlled substance. One of three men charged with flying more than a half a million dollars’ worth of marijuana into Waukegan Regional Airport pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday. Michael Fejer, 23, pleaded not guilty to unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and unlawful trafficking of marijuana charges. If convicted, he faces up to 60 years in prison.
The Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group revieved a tip that a plane carrying marijuana would land at the airport on May 5. Officers and drug-sniffing dogs were waiting when Fejer and his brother, Nicholas Fejer, 23, arrived. They were supposed to meet with Brian Daughterty, 30, of Aurora to deliver about 170 pounds of marijuana, officials said. The Fejers departed from Lake Tahoe, Calif., on May 4 and were apprehended in Waukegan early May 5. Michael Fejer is in county custody in lieu of $750,000 bond. He is due back in court Monday and his trial is set for June 24. Nicholas Fejer is in custody in lieu of $1 million bond pending arraignment Thursday. Daughterty is free on $1 million bond pending arraignment June 9.

LAKE COUNTY PAIR ADMIT MARIJUANA POSSESSION


By Tony Gordan
Daily Herald
October 25, 2010

A Waukegan man and a Wildwood woman both pleaded guilty Monday to possession of the marijuana police found when they raided the woman’s house. Simmie Sims, 35, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and Shanda Lezine, 36, received two years on probation as a result of their guilty pleas to possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver. Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Brett Henne said agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group served a search warrant on Lezine’s residence in the 33000 block of Indian Lane on Aug. 6. Police found Lezine sitting in a car in the driveway of the residence with about two ounces of marijuana in two separate bags. Sims, of the 2500 block of Berkshire Court, was found inside the house along with a little more than six ounces of marijuana. Police also confiscated a digital scale and $984 in cash during the raid, Henne said. Henne told Circuit Judge James Booras that Sims had felony convictions for drug possession in 1993, 2001, 2003 and 2005, while Lezine had no prior significant criminal history.

TWO ARRESTED IN WAKE OF RAID ON FOX LAKE HOUSE


By Jake Griffin |
Daily Herald Staff
Contact writer
Published: 10/25/2007

Two men were arrested after members of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group served a search warrant at a Fox Lake house Wednesday evening and found cocaine, authorities said. Larry Lindenman, director of the multi-jurisdictional task force, said officers found about 10 ounces of the drug during an initial sweep of the home at 49 Marvin St. The two unidentified men "in their 30s" were expected to be processed Wednesday night and be in a Lake County courtroom today to be formally charged, Lindenman said.
The pair likely face more than just the drug charges, he added, and other arrests may occur as a result of Wednesday's raid, Lindenman said. Lindenman said community complaints about activity at the house led to an investigation that went on for a "couple of weeks" leading up to Wednesday's raid. He also said the warrant was served with the help of the Northern Illinois Police Alert System Emergency Services Team, but the suspect was taken into custody without incident. "We utilized the NIPAS team because we were concerned about potential violence," Lindenman said. The men are believed to be members of a notorious motorcycle gang, police officials said. Authorities spent several hours at the house looking for more evidence and contraband before finally clearing out just before 8 p.m. Lindenman said one vehicle was towed from the scene.

A POTENTIAL DISASTER


By Frank Abderholden
The News Sun
September 19, 2007

The arsenal inside the Mundelein Police Department was impressive: A .50-caliber handgun known as the "hand cannon," a semi-automatic Uzi machine gun, antique rifles, an assortment of knives and .38-caliber handguns. And the weapons on display were only half of the guns and rifles confiscated Friday from the home of Michael Sonka, 55, of 910 Granville Ave., Mundelein. There were a total of 636 firearms, plus the three 9mm handguns that undercover police purchased along with five boxes of ammunition.
Lake County authorities confiscated more than 600 guns and rifles during a sting operation at the Mundelein home of Michael Sonka).
"It was one of the largest (gun seizures) in Lake County history," said Larry Lindenman, a master sergeant with the Illinois State Police and executive director of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group. The guns were valued at between $300,000 and $400,000, and police also confiscated more than $4,000 in cash .I saw the police go up there on Friday," said 84-year-old Mabel Krueger, who lives a few doors down from Sonka. Another neighbor who wanted to remain anonymous said, "I am surprised (by the number of guns). I never noted anything strange. I know who he is, but he stuck to himself. I'm really shocked. He seems like a good neighbor," she said.Another neighbor, Wendy Theresi, 46, said she wasn't bothered about the news. She has lived there 12 years and raised three children in what she described as a "wonderful neighborhood. We're adding an addition because we don't want to move," she said.Sonka, who is retired, has had a Federal Firearms License since July 1989, but he didn't start recording a lot of sales activity until 2001. The license allows an individual to engage in a business pertaining to the manufacture of firearms and ammunition or the interstate and intrastate sale of firearms. He ran into problems with the village because he was running the business out of his home."This was certainly not something we want going on in a residential neighborhood," said Mundelein Police Chief Raymond Rose. "If you are going to run a business, you have to do it the right way," he said."We're very fortunate and he's very fortunate that he wasn't set up. This was a potential disaster," Rose said, referring to the fact that not all the weapons were locked in storage lockers."That was an obligation he had. He was a potential hazard to the community," Rose said.Mundelein police developed information that Sonka was selling guns out of his house and his Federal Firearms License had expired four months earlier. They worked with MEG to set up a sting, and on Friday Sonka allegedly sold the guns and ammunition to an undercover police officer during a short meeting.Sonka was charged with gun running, a Class 1 felony, for selling three or more guns and unlawful sale of a firearm for not enforcing the three-day "cooling off period" and failed to do the necessary paperwork for the sale. He was also cited under village ordinance for not having a business license. He was released on a $75,000 signature bond. If he is convicted, the firearms would most likely be destroyed.

BAR OWNER CHARGED IN GAMBLING STING


By Jason King
Daily Herald Staff Writer
January 25, 2007

The owner of a Round Lake bar was arrested Wednesday night for running an illegal gambling operation. Round Lake Police, with cooperation from other local law enforcement agencies and the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, raided the Four Coynes Inn, 302 Nippersink Road; around 7:45 p.m. Inside, officers found a three-table poker tournament in progress, as well as two illegal slot machines. Police Chief Cliff Metaxa said it was also common to find people playing dice at the bar, and the bar also operated sports betting pools. “Those kinds of things go on in bars across the county. It’s illegal,” Metaxa said. “The reason we’re here tonight is because this was so blatant.” Police arrested Scott Coyne of McHenry, who owns the bar. Coyne faces charges for gambling as well as keeping a gaming place. Four Coynes was also one of several Round Lake bars caught in a police sting last month for selling alcohol to minors. In all, 24 people — 18 men and six women — were detained Wednesday, though formal charges were not announced Wednesday night. Police, with the assistance of Lake County MEG, a multi-jurisdictional task force, investigated the bar for the past three months, which included undercover officers participating in the gambling. Metaxa said patrons had to gain the trust of the bartender, who was not named because she had not yet been formally charged, to get into the poker tournaments. Those chosen were introduced to Coyne. Inside the bar Wednesday night, three folding tables were littered with poker chips, playing cards and half-consumed beers. Inside the kitchen, police found a sheet that noted the $20 buy-in price for the game, and the payouts for the winners. Payouts increased with the number of people in the tournament. Metaxa said the investigation began when a Round Lake resident tipped police off to the gambling. Fifty-three officers from several departments participated in the sting. “It went very smooth,” Metaxa said. “Anytime you have that many officers going in with guns drawn, there’s concern. This went very well.”

ZION ROUNDUP NETS 40


THREE MONTH INVESTIGATION TARGETED DRUG DEALERS, BUYERS IN SPECIFIC AREAS



By Tony Gordon
Legal Affairs Writer
January 31, 2006

Police from 18 agencies have arrested 40 people as a result of a three-month investigation into street sales of drugs in Zion, officials said Monday. The Operation Street Sweeper probe, under the direction of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, targeted open-air sales in four areas of the northern Lake County city.
Police Chief Douglas Malcolm said areas known for casual small sales of crack cocaine and marijuana targeted included the 900 block of Lorelei Drive, the 2100 block of Gideon Avenue, the 2200 block of Hebron Avenue and the 2800 block of Galilee Avenue. In 40 transactions, undercover agents purchased a total of nearly 6 ounces of crack cocaine worth an estimated $22,680 and a little more than 5 ounces of marijuana worth about $1,500. Police said all of the purchases were recorded on video and audiotape.
On Jan. 24 and 25, 130 officers from state, federal and local police agencies arrested many of the dealers, Malcolm said. From Thursday through Saturday, a second phase of the investigation used concentrated traffic patrols in the suspect areas to seek out the customers of the dealers. “We went out and made traffic stops based on moving violations,” Metropolitan Enforcement Group Supervisor Mark Hobson said. “We tried to develop drug cases out of the traffic stops. Almost all of the people arrested are from Zion, police said. They are charged with offenses ranging from felonies carrying mandatory prison terms to misdemeanors.
State’s Attorney Michael Waller said investigations such as Street Sweeper are about making neighborhoods safer for the people who live in them. “There is nothing that ruins a neighborhood like an open-air drug market,” Waller said. “If you went out into those neighborhoods today, I am sure you would find people who are glad the drug dealers are gone.” ZION — forty people have been arrested, culminating a three-month drug trafficking investigation involving as many as 18 law enforcement agencies in Lake County and beyond.
During the investigation, undercover police officers and drug agents purchased crack cocaine and marijuana from drug dealers on the streets of Zion, said Zion Police Chief Doug Malcolm, noting the transactions were videotaped. At a news conference announcing the outcome of the investigation Monday at the Zion Police Department, Malcolm praised officers for risking their lives in the operation and said the roundup of the offenders "makes our neighborhoods safer and improves the quality of life in the area."
As many as 130 officers and drug agents were involved in the investigation which began in November. Of the 40 arrested, many were charged with possession of drugs, possession with intent to sell and criminal drug conspiracy.

In addition, 30 traffic tickets and 50 written traffic violation warnings were issued.
The investigation led to searches made by SWAT teams at 2110 Gabriel Ave., 1820 Jethro Ave. and 2105 Gideon Ave., all in Zion.
During the wide-ranging operation, undercover agents made 40 purchases valued at $23,000 from street dealers including 168 grams of crack cocaine and 150 grams of marijuana, according to Patrick Gara of the Mundelein Police Department. The youngest purchaser, as observed by undercover agents, was a 12-year-old girl.
Mark Rasmussen, director of Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, stressed the operation "sent a clear message that law enforcement agencies are here to protect and serve the community."
He said similar operations are either in the works or planned for other areas in the county.
"Nothing ruins a neighborhood more than an open drug market. Some dealers were operating within 1,000 feet of a church, a school and a park," said State's Attorney Michael Waller.
He said because the transactions were videotaped, they would make solid cases in court.
Sheriff Gary Del Re called the operation "an excellent example of law enforcement agencies working together."
Although participating officers risked their lives in the operation, there were no incidents requiring the use of weapons, he pointed out. No guns were seized.
The investigation also led officers to come into close contact with gang members from five area gangs. "Gang offenders were intertwined with drug dealers," said Mark Hobson of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.
In addition to Zion Police, the Sheriff's Office, Lake County MEG and the State's Attorney's Office, other participating agencies included Illinois State Police, DuPage County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, North Central Narcotics Task Force, federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Other participating police departments were those of Deerfield, Grayslake, Gurnee, Hawthorn Woods, Lake Zurich, Libertyville, Round Lake Park, Round Lake Heights and Mundelein.
The 40 arrested and their charges:

• Belinad Caples, 31, of Zion, two counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a park.
• Kenneth D. Knight, 27, of Waukegan, two counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
• Eddie Little, 33, of Zion, arrest warrant for escape, burglary and resisting arrest.
• Stephanie Dixon, 28, of Zion, aiding a fugitive.
• Jimmy Alexander, 35, of Zion, failure to register as a sex offender.
• Rahsaan Terry, 31, of Zion, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.
• Anthony Winters, 45, of Zion, unlawful possession of marijuana.
• Marcus Williams, 21, of Zion, unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
• George Jones, 46, of Zion, unlawful delivery of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a park.
• Marina C. Cruz, 19, of Zion, outstanding arrest warrant for theft.
• Sonya Freeman, 37, of Zion, two counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance.
• Thadius Williams, 66, of Zion unlawful delivery of a controlled substance.
• Tinisha Adams, 21, of Zion, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, unlawful delivery, unlawful possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.
• Jorie Adams, 36, of Zion, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, unlawful delivery, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and unlawful possession of marijuana.
• Susan Yenkle, 34, of Zion, two counts of unlawful possession of controlled substance, two counts of unlawful delivery and criminal drug conspiracy.
• Avis J. Minor, 25, of Zion, four counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, three counts of unlawful possession, criminal drug conspiracy and unlawful delivery of marijuana.
• Sara D. Glenn, 28, of Zion, two counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and two counts of unlawful deliver.
• Melissa Gartner, 21, of Hainesville, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful delivery.
• Melissa A. Matz, 22, of Zion, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, failure to register as a sex offender.
• Alonso Dixon, 27, of Zion, unlawful delivery of a controlled substance.
• Eric Nixon, 22, of Zion, unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
• Louis Chattard, 40, of Zion, unlawful delivery of a controlled substance.
• Fiona S. Jones, 26, of Park City, no valid driver's license.
• Ulysses Jacobs, 73, of Zion, driving under the influence of drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.
• Mark Kohnke, 39, of Zion, of possession of drug paraphernalia.
• Shawn D. Brill, 24, of Zion, driving with a revoked license.
• Larnelle W. Hoskins, 25, of Zion, driving with a suspended license.
• Christopher J. Jones, 19, of Zion, wanted on warrant for driving with suspended license.
• Demeattrice A. Wilcox, 25, of North Chicago, unlawful possession of cannabis.
• Charles L. Mostoicz, 25, of Zion, attempted obstruction of justice.
• Jonathan Holmes, 27, of Zion, unlawful possession of marijuana, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a suspended license.
• Arthur N. DeWolff, 28, of Pleasant Prairie, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of marijuana.
• Cedtron Duffie, 18, of Zion, of unlawful possession of marijuana.
• Shawn Taylor, 34, of Zion, unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.
• Kwantez Taylor, 30, of Zion, unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.
• Jose Rivera, 25, of Zion, driving with a suspended license.
• Jeronis L. Johnson, 29, of Zion, driving with a revoked license and wanted for alleged possession of a stolen vehicle.
• Michael Taylor, 32, of Zion, driving with a suspended license.
• Antonio Harris, 31, of Zion, driving with a revoked license.
• Desiree Monk, 35, of Zion, driving with a suspended license.

FORMER FUGITIVE ORDERED TO START 30 YEAR PRISON SENTENCE



By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
March 28, 2006

A Lake County judge said Monday a man sentenced to 30 years in prison after fleeing the country during his trial on drug charges must begin serving that sentence. Besnick Saliu, 36, was arrested in Bulgaria last year after being on the run for more than two years. Saliu, formerly of Island Lake, was arrested Nov. 8, 2000, and accused of selling a pound of cocaine to undercover agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group. He disappeared Aug. 1, 2003, at the end of the first day of his trial before Circuit Judge James Booras. The trial continued in Saliu’s absence and he was convicted. Booras handed down the 30-year sentence two months later. The FBI issued a worldwide alert for Saliu shortly after his disappearance. He was captured as he tried to cross into Bulgaria from Macedonia on Oct. 10 of last year. He was returned to Lake County earlier this year. On Monday, Chicago attorney Tom Brandstrader asked Booras to grant Saliu a new sentencing hearing. Saliu should be given the right to participate in a presentence investigation of his background for a report to be given to the court prior to sentencing, Brandstrader argued. But Assistant State’s Attorney Bolling Haxall said Saliu had no right to challenge the sentence at the local court level because the time limit on such actions had lapsed. In addition, Haxall argued, people who flee the jurisdiction are waiving their right to participate in the preparation of a presentence report. Booras agreed with Haxall, and said Saliu would be transferred from Lake County jail to the state prison system without further delay.

MEN FACE GAMBLING CHARGES


POLICE SAY OWNER, EMPLOYEE OF SMOKE SHOP WERE PAYING CASH TO SLOT MACHINE PLAYERS



By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
March 24, 2006

The owner of Famous Cigarette Outlet in Mundelein and an employee face gambling charges after being
arrested this week for paying cash to players of these electronic slot machines in the store. The machines were confiscated by authorities. Police said Thursday that some customers of a Mundelein discount cigarette store were coming in for more than a carton of smokes and a disposable lighter. Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Dan Shanes said the owner of Famous Cigarette Outlet and one of his employees
face gambling-related charges, for paying cash to players of a slot machine in the store.
Agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group joined Mundelein police Wednesday evening in seizing the machine and taking both men into custody. Soyab Kagadawala, 48, and Mohammed Rheman, 44, are charged with conspiracy to commit gambling, and face up to five years in prison. Shanes said an undercover MEG agent went into the store at 815 S. Lake St. on three occasions this month, and each time put $20 into a Cherry Monster electronic slot machine in the store. The agent played the machine for a short time on each visit, Shanes said, then announced he was finished and received cash from Rheman, of 1544 N. Hoffman Ave., Park Ridge. The payments were based on the amount of credits the agent had accumulated while playing, Shanes said, and averaged about 20 cents per credit. Both Rheman and store owner Kagadawala, of 314 Orchard St., Mundelein, were at the store around 7 p.m. when police arrived. They appeared before Associate Judge Valerie Ceckowski for a bond hearing Thursday morning, and were released on signature bonds.
Both are scheduled to appear in court April 13.

OFFICERS SAY THEY DISCOVERED METH LAB



By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
November 01, 2005

Lake County officials say they averted a potential disaster when they shut down a methamphetamine laboratory in a Libertyville townhouse. Scott Erb, 38, was arrested Saturday when agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group caught him dumping waste products from the production of the drug in a garbage container on Red Top Drive. The following day, police in hazardous material suits entered Erb’s residence at 810 Braeman Court and found more than a pound of liquid methamphetamine well-along in the manufacturing process, and materials to make much more, officials said. Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Daniel Shanes said it is the largest, most active source of methamphetamine ever discovered in Lake County. What was of particular concern to officials was its location. The drug’s production process involves use of extremely volatile chemicals, including ephedrine and phosphorous, and explosions are not uncommon, Shanes said. It is usually produced in rural areas away from population centers, in part, because of the dangers involved. “One of the most serious concerns we have is the safety of the immediate neighbors to these types of operations,” he said. “While dangerous enough in rural areas, the frightening aspect of this lab was that it was in a townhouse complex, where neighbors share common walls.” It was the volatility of the chemicals involved that brought police attention to Erb, Shanes said. The refuse company that collects the garbage from the container Erb was dumping the waste in reported small fires in their trucks during the compacting process, Shanes said. Chemical experts from the state police Methamphetamine Response Team tested the material and determined methamphetamine waste was the likely cause of the ignitions, Shanes said. MEG agents and Libertyville police kept the dumpster under surveillance and arrested Erb around 10:30 a.m. Saturday when he drove up and threw a bag of garbage into the container. Police said the bag contained chemicals and other by-products of the drug manufacturing process. Police also found two pipes for smoking the drug inside Erb’s car. The pound of methamphetamine found inside Erb’s townhouse has a street value of up to $50,000, Shanes said. Police also found multiple boxes of cold medicine, from which ephedrine is extracted, and more than 500 matchbooks missing the striker plate. Striker plates are commonly used as a source of phosphorous, Shanes said. A 40-caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol was found in the townhouse, which Shanes said will increase the penalties Erb faces on the drug charges. Erb is held on $800,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday. He is charged with aggravated possession of a controlled substance, participation in methamphetamine production, possession of methamphetamine precursors and unlawful disposal of methamphetamine waste. Shanes said Erb faces up to 60 years in prison.

FUGITIVE IN DRUG CASE ARRESTED IN BULGARIA



By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
October 12, 2005

A former Island Lake man who walked away from his trial on drug charges more than two years ago is in police custody in Bulgaria, a Lake County prosecutor said Tuesday. Besnick Saliu, 35 was arrested over the weekend as he tried to cross the border from Macedonia, Assistant State;s Attorney Matthew Hoffman said. Saliu, the former owner of the Island Cafe, disappeared Aug. 1, 2003 at the end of the first day of his tial for selling a pound of cocaine to undercover police officers. The trial continued in Saliu's absence; he was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison tow months later. The FBI issued a worldwide alert for Saliu after his disappearance, and Hoffman said those efforts led to his capture. Saliu was orginally arrested after he tried to sell the cocaine for $14,500 to agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group in a parking lot at routes 12 and 22 in Lake Zurich. Hoffman said officials of the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs are in talks with Bulgarian officials to arrange for Saliu's return to the United States. He could not predict how long it would take to get Saliu back, but Hoffman said Saliu will be held without bond when he is returned.

POT BUSTS NET 781 POUNDS


MORE THAN $3 MILLION IN DRUGS: BOND FOR FIVE SUSPECTS SET AT $1 MILLION EACH



Art Peterson
The News Sun Staff Writer
October 1, 2005

Five men, arrested in two major drug busts of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, made appearances Friday in Lake County Circuit Court. Associate Judge Valerie Boettle Ceckowski set $1 million cash bonds Friday afternoon for three men arrested Thursday as they loaded more than 300 pounds of marijuana into their van at a location in Lake Zurich. That cannabis has a street value of more than $1 million, said Daniel Shanes, chief of the drug prosecutions division in the state's attorney's office. On Friday morning, Judge James Booras heard not guilty pleas from two Chicago men who allegedly took delivery of 481 pounds of marijuana in Lake Barrington. That cannabis has a street value estimated at more than $2 million. MEG agents had intercepted the 300 pounds, shipped by commercial carrier from El Paso, Texas, to a location in Lake Zurich.

They arranged a contact with the three men, who drove a van from the
western suburbs of Chicago to pick up the drugs. The trio was arrested as they were loading the van. Nabbed were two brothers, Jesus Loza, 40, of Cicero, and Jose Loza, 50, of Berwyn, along with their friend, Julio Felix Ortega, 29, of East Chicago, Ind. Each was charged with cannabis trafficking, which carries, upon conviction, a sentence of 12 to 60 years in prison, and possession of cannabis with intent to deliver, which carries a sentence of six to 30 years in prison. Shanes said the two drug busts are part of a MEG operation focusing on large trafficking of marijuana. The men arrested "are part of an interstate narcotics trafficking group," he added. The drugs were destined for Lake County and other parts of the Chicago region, Shanes said.



SWEEP NETS $19,000 IN DRUGS; TWO SUBURBAN MEN CHARGED

By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
April 23, 2005

The Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group said Friday it arrested two men and seized $19,000 worth of drugs after a month-long investigation. MEG Director Mark Rasmussen said Christopher J. Knauf, 29, and Justin G. Cairus, 26, both face multiple charges after their Wednesday night arrests. Rasmussen said Lindenhurst police provided his agency with information about possible drug activity at Knauf’s home at 2002 Burr Oak Lane, Lindenhurst. Agents arrived at the house with a search warrant about 6 p.m., Rasmussen said, and found one pound of cocaine and one pound of marijuana inside. The cocaine is worth $15,000 on the street, Rasmussen said, and the marijuana could fetch $2,000. Agents then took a search warrant to Cairus’ residence at 37370 N. Cremona, Lake Villa, where another pound of marijuana was discovered. Rasmussen said drug paraphernalia was found in both houses. Knauf is charged with unlawful possession of and intent to deliver cocaine, unlawful possession of and intent to deliver marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Cairus is charged with unlawful possession of, and intent to deliver, marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Assistant State’s Attorney Dan Shanes said bond is set at $500,000 for Knauf and $5,000 for Cairus. Knauf is due in court Monday, while Cairus’ next court date is May 17. Shanes said Knauf faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted; Cairus faces a maximum penalty of seven years.


TIP LEADS POLICE TO MARIJUANA ‘GROW HOUSE’

By Tony Gordon
April 16, 2005

A tip to Lake County CrimeStoppers led police to a pair of Waukegan houses used for nothing other than the growing of marijuana, and more than $1 million in drugs and weapons, police said Friday.
Michael W. Mattes, 52, of 1903 Camp McDonald Road in Mount Prospect, is charged with multiple felonies after police raided the houses and his personal residence. Lake County CrimeStoppers Director Andy Anderson said his agency received a tip about a “grow house” in Waukegan about 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Anderson said the caller told CrimeStoppers a house at 12442 Atlantic Ave. was unoccupied and unfurnished and had been rented specifically for the purpose of growing marijuana. Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group agents, as well as investigators from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service, went to the house about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Vincent Pierri/Daily Herald

Lake County assistant state’s attorney Dan Shanes said the agents could smell marijuana from outside the house and took Mattes into custody when he drove up in a car he parked in the driveway. Mattes had a loaded .38-caliber revolver in his possession when he encountered police, Shanes said. Mattes is barred from possessing weapons in this state because of felony drug convictions in 1976 in DuPage County and 1979 in Cook County. Police said he consented to a search of the home and they found 81 marijuana plants growing in a sophisticated irrigation and lighting system and 93.4 pounds of processed marijuana in a plastic garbage bag. A .22-caliber rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun also were found in the home, Shanes said. Mattes then agreed to allow police to search his Mount Prospect home, Shanes said, and they discovered another 19.7 pounds of marijuana and a 12-gauge shotgun there. About 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Mattes led police to a second grow house he rented in Waukegan at 2050 Walnut St. Once there, Shanes said police found 500 marijuana plants growing and a third 12-gauge shotgun. Using a state police formula for calculating the street value of drugs, the marijuana and the plants are worth between $1.16 million and $2.55 million.
Shanes said Mattes is charged with multiple counts of manufacture of marijuana, possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana plants and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. Mattes faces a potential prison sentence of more than 100 years if convicted of all counts. Shanes said the investigation of Mattes’ activities remains open and police are attempting to determine if others were involved. Mattes is being held on $1 million bond and is due to appear in court Tuesday. U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk said the arrest by the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group will add fuel to the fire in the House to continue funding for such law enforcement groups in Illinois. “This is the type of action that justifies the funding of the Byrne grants, which provides the financial basis for MEG units in Illinois,” Kirk said. “The president is suggesting that Byrne money be combined with other law enforcement funding, but those of us in Congress are committed to keeping the MEG units in operation.”



LINDENHURST MAN CHARGED WITH SELLING DRUG TO OFFICER

By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
March 3, 2005

A Lindenhurst man was ordered held on $1.5 million bond Wednesday after being charged with selling cocaine with a loaded gun in his pocket. Agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group arrested James K. Swan, 27, at a Libertyville hotel Tuesday evening. Assistant State's Attorney Dan Shanes said Swan, of 2305 Honeysuckle Court, is also charged with three prior drug sales to MEG agents.
Shanes said Swan agreed to sell an undercover officer 2.2 pounds of cocaine for $21,500 and set up a meeting at the Holiday Inn Express, 77 Buckley Road. About 5 p.m. Tuesday, the officer met with Swan at the hotel and Swan handed over a package containing tightly compressed powder. He was taken into custody and police discovered a .22 caliber semiautomatic pistol in his pocket with a round loaded in the firing chamber.
Swan was also wearing SAP gloves, leather gloves with compartments of powdered lead covering the upper finger areas that act the same as brass knuckles. An inspection of the package Swan handed police showed only the center of the 2.2-pound brick was actual cocaine, Shanes said. However, the criminal case against Swan will deal with the entire weight of the package as a controlled substance because state law says "any substance containing cocaine" is cocaine. "The contents of the package demonstrates rather clearly that he intended to rip the buyer off," Shanes said. "We believe the weapon and the gloves indicate he was willing to do so violently." Police said Swan also sold one-quarter ounce of cocaine to MEG agents on Feb. 15 and Feb. 17 and sold them a full ounce on Feb. 22. Swan served prison terms for cocaine possession convictions in 1998 and 2001, court documents show, and was placed on probation for the same crime in 1995.
Shanes said Swan is charged with armed violence and delivery of cocaine for the most recent sale.
Armed violence is punishable by a mandatory sentence of between 15 and 30 years in prison and delivery of cocaine has a mandatory sentence of between 15 and 60 years. The Feb. 22 delivery is punishable by a sentence of between six and 30 years, while the Feb. 14 and Feb. 17 deliveries carry four- to 15-year penalties.
Associate Judge Victoria Martin scheduled a court appearance for Swan on March 10.


POLICE RAID WAUKEGAN’CRACK FACTORY’

TWO PEOPLE CHARGED IN WHAT LAKE COUNTY OFFICIALS SAY MAY BE THE LARGEST SEIZURE IN THE STATE.

BY TONY GORDON
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
July1, 2004
_______________________________________________
“Dealers generally do not have that much crack cocaine
on hand at any one time.”
Dan Shanes, assistant state’s attorney
_______________________________________________

Lake County authorities believe they have seized the largest amount of crack cocaine in a single raid in the history of the state.
Agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group and Waukegan police stormed a condominium in Waukegan late Tuesday and discovered what one official described as a ‘crack factory” .
Close to 2½ pounds of crack cocaine, formed by cooking powdered cocaine in a mixture of other chemicals, was discovered in the home at 1655 Beach Road, Assistant State’s Attorney Dan Shanes said.
An additional five pounds of powder cocaine, many laboratory burners and glassware and more than $40,000 in cash hidden inside a panel of an interior door was also found, Shanes said. Brandy Johnson, 25, who police said lives in the condo, and Jeffrey Collier, 33, of 2410 Cannel Blvd., were arrested and charged with possession of cocaine with the intent to deliver. Shanes said the amount of crack cocaine seized was especially significant because the drug is usually prepared in much smaller quantities. “Dealers generally do not have that much crack cocaine on hand at any one time,” Shanes said. “It is sold in small quantities, so people usually only prepare what is needed to be sold over a short period of time.” Shanes said he and other people familiar with the case could not recall a seizure of any amount anywhere in Illinois approaching what was taken from the condo. The total street value of the drugs seized is between $500,000 and $750,000, Shanes said. Police believe the crack cocaine was prepared inside the condo.
“Our officers are familiar with what a standard crackhouse looks like on the inside,” Shanes said. “They were telling me that this was a crack factory.” The investigation of Johnson and Collier has been going on for several months, he said. Police say Johnson sold an undercover agent seven grams of powder cocaine April 19.
On June 1, police said a second sale of seven grams was made and said Johnson sold an undercover agent an ounce of cocaine late Tuesday afternoon. Shanes said Johnson was taken into custody immediately after the sale and a search warrant was obtained for her residence after the arrest. Collier was arrested because he was in the condo when police arrived with the search warrant, Shanes said, and the drugs and cooking materials were in plain view. During the search of the residence, police said they found $40,766 in cash hidden inside a panel of a door and Coffler had an additional $492 on him. Associate Judge Victoria Martin ordered both suspects held on $250,000 bond after a hearing Wednesday morning. Shanes said both face mandatory prison sentences of between 15 and 60 years if they are convicted of the charges.



MAN GETS 30 YEARS IN COCAINE STING

By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
June 16, 2004

A Round Lake Beach man found with more than 10 pounds of cocaine in his home was sentenced to 30 years in prison Tuesday. Gregario Castenada, 45, was arrested Oct. 30 as he drove to a meeting he had set up with undercover agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group at which he was to sell 1 ounce of cocaine. Police found the ounce in his car, and Castenada gave them permission to search the house at 1603 Woodbine Circle in which he had lived for about three months with two other men.
Cocaine was found in cabinets, inside the walls and in a five-gallon pasta pot on top of the kitchen refrigerator, Assistant State's Attorney Matt Hoffman said. All together, more than 10 pounds of the drug was confiscated, which Hoffman said would have sold for between $1 million and $1.5 million. Castenada claimed he was only running an errand for the other men in the house, who fled shortly after Castenada was arrested, and had nothing to do with drug dealing or the huge stash. "I was a guest in that house, and the drugs in the car they had given me to deliver," Castenada told Circuit Judge James Booras. "I had no idea that the drugs were in the house." Hoffman rejected that claim. He said the undercover agents who set up the 1 ounce deal dealt strictly with Castenada, and it would have been impossible for anyone living in the house not to know the drugs were there. "There was the smell of cocaine throughout the house; it was hidden everywhere inside of it," Hoffman said. "He was living in a house built of cocaine." Defense attorney Mark Curran of Waukegan argued Castenada should get a sentence on the low end of the 15-year to 60-year range he was facing in keeping with his role in the obvious drug organization. "This man was a mule for others, others who should have been prosecuted themselves," Curran said. "He had no extravagant lifestyle, no bank accounts and no fancy cars."
But Booras said even if Castenada's claim he agreed to deliver the ounce because he was unemployed and needed money was true, it was not an excuse. "There are many people who are out of work these days, Mr. Castenada," Booras said, "and they do not move massive amounts of drugs to poison other people's children."
Castenada was convicted after a two-day trial in March by a jury that deliberated for about one hour before reaching the guilty verdict.



MAJOR STING DRUG BUY NETS TWO
DELIVERY, POSSESSION CHARGES: $5M BOND FOR SKOKIE MAN

By Art Peterson
Staff Writer The News Sun
March 26, 2004


Bond was set at $5 million Thursday in Lake County Circuit Court for a Skokie man arrested in Deerfield after a major sting buy of Ecstasy pills by the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, along with the Deerfield Police Department and other law enforcement agencies. Hien Van La, 29, was charged with three counts of unlawful delivery, a Class X offense, and three counts of unlawful possession, a Class One offense. Associate Judge Victoria Martin set bond at $500,000, for another man, Virasack Z. Phoxay, a 26-year-old Chicago resident, who law enforcement officials indicate was an alleged lookout. Phoxay is charged with one count each of delivery and possession. Additional charges of trafficking are likely, indicated Daniel Shanes, chief of the drug prosecutions division of the Lake County State's Attorney's office, if evidence proves that the pills were brought in from out-of-state. Van La was arrested at 5:35 p.m. Wednesday, in the parking lot of the Cadwell Corners strip mall, at 57 N. Waukegan Road, Deerfield. He allegedly delivered 5,000 Ecstasy pills to an undercover Lake County MEG agent. In two prior sales in the Highland Park area, Van La allegedly had sold the agent 400 pills, according to MEG spokesmen. The agent paid a total of $40,000 for the three transactions. Each pill has a street value of $35, according to MEG spokesmen, and the triple buy has a street value of $189,000. The arrests capped a two-month-long investigation which also involved the Illinois State Police, the FBI, the DuPage County Metropolitan Enforcement Group and the Riverwoods Police Department. The investigation was part of the State Police "Project X" initiative, a law enforcement program that targets drug dealers selling "club drugs" such as Ecstasy. While Van La was making the actual drug deal, Shanes said Phoxay was driving around the strip mall parking lot as the two men stayed in communication with each other via cell phones. Phoxay has no prior convictions, but he has had prior arrests in Chicago and Cook County, Shanes said, and has forfeited bond and required bench warrants. Phoxay is a foreign-born U.S. citizen, Shanes added. The total amount of the pills qualifies as a Class Super X offense, Shanes indicated. A conviction would bring a sentence of 15 to 60 years in prison. If evidence proves an out-of-state source for the pills, a trafficking charge could double the sentence to 30 to 120 years in prison, Shanes added. Although Van La said he is unemployed, Shanes said he has funds, including state money from drug stings which was traced to his bank account. Van La, who was born in North Vietnam, has had prior arrests for drug offenses but no convictions, Shanes said. "He is not now charged with trafficking," Shanes said, but evidence indicates "he got pills from other states. He is a flight risk and needs a bond of several million dollars." Martin set bond at $5 million "based on the hand-to-hand contact" of Van La in the alleged drug deal. She set a hearing for status of attorney on April 2. Shanes recommended a $2 million bond for Phoxay. Attorney Richard Quinn recommended a lower amount, saying Phoxay has a 5-year-old son, no gang affiliation, and "has no reason to flee. His car was searched and they found nothing." Martin said "the defendant's position is that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The evidence may prove otherwise. The request is high, I'll set a reasonable bond." Quinn said Phoxay's family could raise up to $20,000, but not immediately. Martin set bond at least temporarily at $500,000, and scheduled a hearing for further bond review for Phoxay on Tuesday. Both men, if they post bond, must follow a 24-hour curfew, with release from home only for work, school or to see an attorney, and they can have no contact with each other, Martin said. Until and if bond is posted, the two will be kept in separate portions of the Lake County Jail in Waukegan.



DRUG STING SNARES 5,000

By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
March 26, 2004

Two men are charged with attempting the largest-ever single sale of Ecstasy to undercover Lake County police.
Assistant State's Attorney Daniel Shanes said Hieu Van La, 29, of Skokie and Virasack Z. Phoxay, 26, of Chicago were arrested Wednesday afternoon by agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group.
Shanes said La, of 9433 Kolmar Ave., agreed to sell 5,000 pills of the powerful hallucinogen to a Metropolitan Enforcement Group agent for $40,000. "These drugs have a street value of at least $200,000," Shanes said. "We consider it very fortunate that law enforcement was able to keep this noxious poison out of the hands of potential consumers." The deal was set for 5:30 p.m. in a parking lot at Lake-Cook and Waukegan roads in Deerfield, Shanes said. Metropolitan Enforcement Group agents in unmarked cars set up surveillance on the lot about 30 minutes before the scheduled buy. Police observed Phoxay, of 5041 N. Lowell Ave., as he arrived and drove slowly around the lot before pulling into a parking space. La then arrived, Shanes said, parked his car and walked to the car containing the undercover officer. When La handed the agent the package containing the club drug pills, Shanes said, that officer activated a radio signal to alert the other officers to make the arrests. The undercover officer's car and the vehicle Phoxay was in were surrounded by police, and both men were taken into custody without incident. The pair had been under investigation for about two months, Shanes said. At a hearing Thursday, Associate Judge Victoria Martin set bond for La at $5 million and ordered Phoxay held on $500,000 bond. She scheduled another court appearance for Phoxay on Tuesday, and said La should return to court April 2. Both face a mandatory prison sentence of 15 to 60 years if convicted.
Before Wednesday's arrests, the previous largest attempted Ecstasy transaction in the county was in July 2003 when two men were charged with attempting to sell 1,000 doses of the drug in Buffalo Grove.
Igor Naydenov, 28, and Gennady Shklyar, 29, of 1504 E. Jane Ave., Arlington Heights, have pleaded innocent to delivery of a controlled substance and are awaiting trial.


FACE CHARGES OF SELLING ECSTASY
Daily Herald
July 12, 2003

BUFFALO GROVE -- Two men who sold more than 1,000 Ecstasy pills to undercover police officers in Buffalo Grove were arrested on drug charges late Thursday, authorities said. Gennady Shklyar, 28, of the 1500 block of East Jane Avenue in Arlington Heights and Igor Naydenor, 27, of Lake Zurich were both charged with unlawful delivery of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, police said Friday. Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group and other agencies joined Buffalo Grove police in the sting. The two men were arrested outside a bar in the 300 block of McHenry Road, police said. Police estimated the street value of the seized club-drug tablets at $36,550.


2 ARRESTED IN BUFFALO GROVE ECSTASY STING

By Dave Orrick
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
July 13, 2003

At least one of two suburban men arrested in a drug sting last week in Buffalo Grove remained jailed Saturday, police and a relative said. The two men were charged with trying to sell more than 1,000 pills of the club drug Ecstasy - with an estimated street value of $36,550 to undercover officers Thursday outside a business on Route 83, north of Lake Cook Road, according to Buffalo Grove police. The sting was the result of a several-week investigation by agents from the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group assisted by officers from
Buffalo Grove, Vernon Hills, Illinois state police, Lake County sheriff's department, the regional North Central Narcotics Task Force and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, police said. Gennady Skylar, 28, of 1504 E. Jane Ave., Arlington Heights, was ordered held on $200,000 bond Friday, his mother said. Police listed
her family's name as Shklyar. The suspect's mother said she didn't think her son was involved, but she declined to comment further. Igor Naydenor, 27, of Lake Zurich, also was arrested, police said. Neither he nor his family could be reached for comment. Each is charged with unlawful delivery of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a controlled substance.



241 DRUG-FILLED BALLOONS REMOVED FROM SUSPECT

By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
May 10, 2001

Lake County officials believe Sean Kucharski's problems are the result of something he ate. His troubles come in the form of a grand jury indictment issued Wednesday charging the 29-year-old Crystal Lake man with drug trafficking and possession of a controlled substance.
What Kucharski ate was 241 small balloons filled with Ecstasy pills, which were surgically removed from his system as a police officer watched in the operating room.
The pills are an illegal, but nonetheless popular, drug among teens on the club scene.
Assistant State's Attorney Mathew Chancey said Kucharski, of 395 Poplar St., was arrested April 26 on the charges, which carry a mandatory prison sentence of between six and 30 years if convicted of the charges and is presently free on $25,000 bond. Mark Piccoli, deputy director of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, said Kucharski traveled to Amsterdam, Holland, in March and bought the drugs. He loaded between 800 and 900 of the pills, each of which are slightly smaller than an aspirin, into the balloons and swallowed them before returning to this area in late March, police said. The balloons became lodged in Kucharski's colon, Piccoli said, and he became ill when he could not expel them from his body.
"The drugs weighed about a pound and it is our understanding that he was in some severe pain," Piccoli said. "About the same time, we received confidential information about what may be happening with him and started an investigation." Kucharski was taken to Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington at about 5 a.m. on March 29, and Piccoli said MEG agents arrived at the hospital about five hours later. The agents were told that Kucharski was not responding to the laxatives he had been given, and if the blockage did not leave his body naturally it would have to be surgically removed because his blood pressure was dropping. "We basically said that we wanted whatever it was that was in there," Piccoli said. "And after consultations between the Lake County state's attorney's office and attorneys for the hospital, a search warrant for the operating room was drafted and approved by a judge." Piccoli said the search warrant allowed MEG Agent Tim Gretz, scrubbed and dressed in surgical garb, to stand next to Dr. Gia Compagnoni during the operation that removed the balloons from Kucharski's system.
"We have to insure that the chain of custody of the evidence is pure and unbroken," Piccoli said. "So Tim went into the operating room, was there when the drugs came out and will be prepared to testify to that in court." Piccoli said police allowed Kucharski a reasonable amount of time to recover from the surgery before taking him into custody. He posted 10 percent of a $250,000 bond to gain his release from the Lake County jail. A spokeswoman for Good Shepherd said neither the hospital nor Compagnoni would comment on the case. Kucharski, who is scheduled to be arraigned May 16 before Circuit Judge Raymond McKoski, could not be reached for comment. Piccoli said the drugs have a street value of $45,000 and the case is another example of the growing popularity of Ecstasy. "It is frightening to see that someone would go to this length -- actually putting his life at risk -- to bring this stuff into the country," Piccoli said. "Not only could he have developed serious medical problems from what actually happened, if one of those balloons had broken open inside of him it could have been disastrous."
Surgery: Agent present to collect evidence.




HOSPITAL TRIPS BALLOON INTO DRUG CHARGES
SMUGGLED FROM AMSTERDAM:
POLICE SAY PAIR SWALLOWED BALLOONS CONTAINING 1,700 PILLS

By Chris Brenner
Staff Writer The News Sun
May 10, 2001

A Cary man and a McHenry woman became violently ill and were hospitalized after swallowing hundreds of balloons containing the drug Ecstasy in Amsterdam, Netherlands, police said Wednesday.
Sean Kucharski, 28, of Cary is being held in the Lake County Jail, and Charlotte Cox, 42, of McHenry is in the McHenry County Jail, according to Sgt. Michael Myhre of the North Central Narcotics Task Force in Algonquin.
The investigation and subsequent arrests were made last month by the narcotics force and the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, Myhre said. Kucharski is accused of swallowing 231 balloons containing 1,155 Ecstasy pills, a designer drug, while Cox is accused of swallowing 96 balloons with 545 Ecstasy pills, Myhre said. Both became ill March 28 at Cox's residence in the 500 block of Mineral Springs Road, Myhre said. Cox was admitted to Northern Illinois Medical Center in McHenry and Kucharski to Good Shepherd Hospital in Lake Barrington. Myhre said medical personnel at the McHenry hospital notified McHenry police of the drugs, and that agency notified the North Central and MEG groups. Cox and Kucharski were hospitalized for about 10 days, he said. Both suspects were charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, criminal drug conspiracy, unlawful controlled substance trafficking and unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Formal charges were made on April 20, Myhre said.
He said announcement of the arrests was delayed to allow the gathering of evidence and information. He said U.S. Customs officials are also interested in the case.



GUN BUY-BACK PROGRAM NETS OVER 200 WEAPONS

By Gwen H. Jader
Daily Herald Correspondent
December 16, 2001

The Lake County Sheriff's Office collected more than 200 firearms Saturday in the county's first gun buy back program. Guns were collected at the "Old" Mundelein Fire Department building and police department offices in Round Lake Beach, Lake Forest, Lake Zurich and Waukegan. "It's much busier than we anticipated. We've been very busy at each location," said Mark Piccoli, the Deputy Director of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group. Officers also made house calls, for participants who were concerned about handling loaded guns or who couldn't drive. "There's a story behind every gun. There's always history behind a weapon," said Sergeant Kent Perkins of the Kildeer Police Department. He and Lake Zurich police officer Scott Frost collected two rifles and a handgun from a home in Lake Zurich's Old Mill Grove community. Resident Jerry Gagnon was happy to dispose of three guns. Two had been left to him by his father and one had been left in an apartment owned by his grandfather. "These have been sitting in the corner for 25 years. It's something that you don't want to have, yet you don't know how to dispose of properly," Gagnon said. Widows returned guns owned by their deceased spouses. Veterans brought in 45-caliber pistols and service revolvers. Former hunters turned in hunting rifles. Dennis and Muriel Olenik drove to Lake Zurich from Arlington Heights to bring in a 12-gauge shotgun that Dennis had hunted with years ago when they lived in central Illinois.
"This is a hunting weapon that I had before the days of permits. It's probably a collector's item. This a great program because this is something that you don't know how to get rid of properly," he said.
Participants received a $50 gift certificate, redeemable at local stores and restaurants, for each gun. They also received a stuffed animal. "We're providing an outlet for people, primarily an older crowd, who want to dispose of guns safely," said Rodney Chesser, Lake Zurich Commander, Criminal Investigations Division. The buy back continues from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.




GETTING RID OF GUNS

By Harold G. Downs
Daily Herald Staff Writer
December 03, 2002

Gun owners wanting to dispose of unwanted guns and ammunition are urged to do so during Lake County's second gun buyback program. The program is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at police locations in Waukegan, Mundelein, Round Lake Park/Hainesville, Gurnee, Lake Forest, Lake Zurich, Grayslake, Vernon Hills, Buffalo Grove and Highland Park. People who turn in unwanted functioning firearms receive a $50 gift certificate to a food or department store per weapon and a stuffed animal, with a gift certificate limit of $200 per person. Pellet and BB guns and nonfunctional weapons can be redeemed for stuffed animals. All guns and accessories will be destroyed. The program is coordinated by the Lake County Sheriff's Office in cooperation with the Lake County Chiefs of Police Association, Lake County Crime Stoppers, Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group and local law enforcement agencies. Police ask participants to follow these guidelines: • Guns should be unloaded and in a gun case or bag and transported in the trunk of the car or nonaccessible area of a van or pickup truck. • When arriving at the turn-in site, enter without the firearm and ask a uniformed officer about turning in the firearm. The officer will accompany the participant back to the vehicle and retrieve the weapon. • Those unfamiliar or uncomfortable with handling or unloading firearms safely or who need a ride to a turn-in site can call the sheriff's office or local police department and an officer will travel to the home to assist. • An officer will retrieve a firearm from a home if a person is unable to leave. The officer will complete the paperwork and return with the $50 gift certificate and stuffed animal. Last year's program collected 408 firearms and distributed $20,000 in certificates over two days in its first year. The number of weapons turned in at any one site ranged from 99 in Mundelein to 68 in Lake Zurich. Lake Zurich Police Chief William Urry noted the gift certificates and stuffed animals give gun owners an incentive to turn in their unwanted weapons during the program, rather than just turning them in for disposal at local police departments as some do. "The whole idea is to get the weapon out of the house," Urry said. "We're targeting people who have no real use for the weapon." Urry, who is also president of the Lake County Chiefs of Police Association, noted the program may not occur every year, depending on what this year's results yield. The program is occurring only one day this year compared to last year's two days, but more turn-in sites were added this year, Urry said. Lake County Sheriff's Police cited the following statistics from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. • There are about 192 million privately owned firearms in the United States, 65 million being handguns. • There were 30,708 firearm-related deaths in the U.S. in 1998, 57 percent being suicides, 39 percent murders, 3 percent accidents and 1 percent unknown. • Gunshot wounds were the second leading cause of death and injury for children and young people 10 and 24 years old, with the leading cause motor vehicle accidents. Lake County Sheriff Gary Del Re noted the program's purpose is not to deter private gun ownership but allow citizens to dispose of unwanted firearms, accessories and ammunition. "By conducting such operations, law enforcement enables the community to play an active role in getting unwanted guns off the street and out of the hands of potential wrongdoers by reducing the number of firearms in circulation," Del Re said.


FOX LAKE WOMAN, 2 MEN CHARGED
IN ATTEMPTED SALE OF LSD TO OFFICER

By Rummana Hussain
Chicago Tribune
November 3, 2000

Two Chicago-area men and a Canadian woman have been charged in connection with an alleged LSD drug ring in Fox Lake. The Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group seized 5,500 doses of LSD Oct.25 in a Jewel Food parking lot in Fox Lake.Scott E. Wozniak, 23, of Cicero, Anthony J. Soto, 24 of Carol Stream, and Jessica L. Morrison 23, of Ontario, Canada, were arrested when they allegedly attempted to sell some of the drugs to an undercover officer, said Kevin Grampo, a group supervisor.
All three were charged with possession of a controlled substance and delivery of a controlled substance, Grampo said, They were being held in Lake County Jail, he said. The street value of the seized LSD is about $30,000, he said.



FOUR CHARGED WITH SELLING 'COKE' AT FAST-FOOD RESTAURANT

By Dave Orrick
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
December 08, 2002










In what suburban officials say is one of the most brazen drug operations they've seen, four Lake County residents were jailed Saturday on charges they ran a cocaine ring and sold the product "to go" from the drive-through window of a Mundelein Burger King. More than nine months of surveillance of the alleged operation culminated Friday night when authorities made a whopper of an undercover buy - one kilo of coke with an estimated street value of $300,000 - from the eatery's night manager, his wife and two former employees, authorities said Saturday. "It was obviously going on every day," Mundelein Chief Raymond Rose said of the operation, which drew drug users and possibly dealers from throughout the Chicago region to the fast-food franchise on Midlothian Road south of Route 60/83. According to Mundelein police and the anti-drug Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, here's how it worked: Employees stashed various quantities of cocaine in clear plastic bags next to coffee creamers, milk and condiments in small refrigerators in the drive-through window area. "Customers" either phoned orders ahead or asked for certain employees at the drive-up ordering kiosk. Without using code words, they specified an amount of cocaine over the microphone, pulled around to the window and paid the dealer-employee, who handed over the drugs in a Burger King paper bag.
Mundelein Sgt. Nick Poulos said quantities routinely sold that police documented ranged from less than a gram to more than an ounce. Friday night's kilogram deal went down in the parking lot, police say.
Throughout the course of the investigation, authorities were unable to reach the owner of the franchise, Poulos said.
Restaurant night manager Fabian Guzman, 21, his wife Niesha Molina, 24, his brother Raul Guzman, 20, all of 55 Shadow Lane in Mundelein, as well as Ricardo Sanchez, 36, of the first block of North Ridgemoor Avenue in Mundelein, were being held in Lake County jail Saturday after a judge ordered each held on $750,000 bond.
Each is charged with criminal drug conspiracy, a "super Class X" felony that carries a sentence range of 12 to 60 years in prison if convicted, as well as delivery and possession of a controlled substance.
Fabian Guzman worked the 4 p.m.-to-close shift as recently as Friday night, police said. Raul Guzman and Sanchez worked there until several months ago, when they were both fired for unrelated reasons. Terry Lemming, director of Lake County MEG, and Rose said the investigation isn't over, and more arrests are likely. Police first got wind of the alleged operation more than a year ago and began regular surveillance nine months ago, they said. Over that time, Rose said "hundreds" of drive-through deals were observed, with customers ranging from casual users to suspected dealers. Police declined to elaborate on evidence amassed by the surveillance.
Rose and Lemming also said other employees who may have known about the dealing and done nothing are being scrutinized. A manager reached at the restaurant Saturday, who only identified herself as "Cindy" said, "No one in this store had any knowledge of this happening." Lemming added that handling potentially deadly drugs next to food creates a potential public health hazard. "When this guy touches cocaine, you think he washes his hands?" he said. •Daily Herald staff writer Russell Lissau contributed to this report.
Charged: Authorities say others employees under scrutiny



POLICE: WORKERS AT MUNDELEIN BURGER KING SOLD COCAINE

Associated Press
December 09, 2002

Customers at a Mundelein Burger King could order some cocaine with their Whoppers and fries, authorities say. Members of a drug ring working at the restaurant stashed various quantities of cocaine in plastic bags near milk, condiments and coffee creamers in a small refrigerator in the drive-through window area, according to Mundelein police and the anti-drug Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group. Customers would either phone before they came to pick up their orders or ask that particular employees serve them, police said. Upon arrival, customers would then request drugs over the eatery's drive-though microphone, pull around to the window and receive their cocaine in a Burger King paper bag, authorities said. Mundelein Police Chief Raymond Rose said the operation attracted drug users and perhaps drug dealers from throughout the Chicago area and that police witnessed "hundreds" of drive-through deals. "It was obviously going on every day," he said. Members of the alleged drug ring were arrested after an undercover officer bought, in the restaurant's parking lot, one kilo of cocaine with a street value of about $300,000, police said. Arrested Friday night on criminal drug conspiracy charges were the restaurant's night manager, Fabian Guzman, 21; his wife, Niesha Molina, 24; his brother, Raul Guzman, 20; and Ricardo Sanchez, 36. Police said Raul Guzman and Sanchez worked at the restaurant until they were fired several months ago. On Saturday a Lake County judge ordered each of the Mundelein residents held on $750,000 bond. The arrests came after police had the restaurant under surveillance for more than nine months, authorities said. People would purchase anywhere from a gram to more than an ounce at the drive-thru window, Mundelein Sgt. Nick Poulos said. Friday night's sale to police, authorities said, took place in the parking lot. Criminal drug conspiracy is a felony that carries a sentence of 12 to 60 years in prison. The four also are charged with delivery and possession of a controlled substance. Authorities say an investigation continues into whether other employees knew about the drug dealing.



3 PLEAD GUILTY TO SELLING DRUGS AT RESTAURANT

By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
April 08, 2003

Three of the four people accused of running a cocaine sales operation from a Mundelein fast-food restaurant pleaded guilty Monday in Lake County Circuit Court. The four were arrested Dec. 7 after a months-long sting by agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group ended with the sale of more than two pounds of the drug with an estimated value of $30,000. Fabian Guzman, 22, the night manager of the Burger King at 712 S. Midlothian Road, was taken into custody after police said he accepted $25,000 for the kilogram package of cocaine during a meeting in the restaurant parking lot. Guzman, his wife, Neisha Molina, 24, and his brother, Raul Guzman, 21, all of whom lived at 55 Shadow Lane, Mundelein, were arrested at the scene of the sale, as was Ricardo Sanchez, 26, of 21 N. Ridgemoor Ave., Mundelein. Assistant State's Attorney Amy Meister Falbe said both Guzmans and Sanchez were restaurant employees. They made dozens of smaller-quantity sales to undercover agents in the months leading up to the major deal, authorities said. On the night of the arrests, Fabian Guzman was meeting with an undercover agent in the agent's car in the restaurant parking lot, authorities said. Molina and Raul Guzman waited in a car across the street. Sanchez walked up to the car Molina and Raul Guzman occupied, took a plastic bag from the back seat and walked across the street and handed the bag to Fabian Guzman, Falbe said. All four were charged with delivery of cocaine and face up to 60 years if convicted after a trial. They have been in the Lake County jail on $750,000 bond since their arrests. Monday, prosecutors offered Fabian Guzman a prison sentence of 20 years if he agrees to plead guilty. He is scheduled to appear in court Friday to announce his decision. Sanchez pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in prison. Molina pleaded guilty in exchange for 4¨ years behind bars. Raul Guzman, who prosecutors said played the smallest role in all of the ring's operations, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years in prison. That sentence will be put on hold, however, and Raul Guzman will be turned over to the Department of Immigration and Naturalization Service for immediate deportation to his native Mexico. Falbe said Raul Guzman will be forced to serve the prison sentence only if he returns to this country and is arrested. If that happens, he will also be subject to a mandatory 10-year federal prison term for re-entering the country after being deported. She said the other three defendants are also illegal immigrants and are likely to be deported after they have served their prison terms.



MAN CHARGED IN FAST FOOD DRUG CASE PLEADS GUILTY

By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
April 24, 2003

The man police say was the force behind a drug operation based at a Mundelein fast food restaurant was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday. Fabian Guzman, 22, avoided a sentence of as many as 60 years by pleading guilty to delivery of cocaine and accepting the 20-year term negotiated with prosecutions. Guzman was the night manager of the Burger King at 712 S. Midlothian Road. He was arrested Dec. 7 after a months-long investigation by the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group. Guzman, his wife, Neshia Molina, 24, and his brother, Raul Guzman, 21, all of 55 Shadow Lane, Mundelein, were charged in the case, along with Ricardo Sanchez, 26, of 21 N. Ridgemoor Ave., Mundelein. Assistant State's Attorney Amy Meister Falbe said both Guzmans and Sanchez were restaurant employees. They made dozens of sales to undercover agents during the investigation, including some at the restaurant's drive-through window, Falbe said. On the night of the arrests, Fabian Guzman met with an undercover agent in the agent's car in the restaurant parking lot. Molina and Raul Guzman waited in a car across the street. Sanchez walked up to that car, took a black plastic bag from the back seat, walked across the street and handed the bag to Fabian Guzman. All four were arrested when Fabian Guzman accepted a $25,000 payment for the cocaine from the agent. Police said the cocaine had a street value of more than $100,000. All four illegal immigrants were charged with delivery of a controlled substance. Sanchez, Molina and Raul Guzman pleaded guilty during separate hearings April 7. Sanchez was sentenced to nine years in prison and Molina got 4¨ years. Raul Guzman received six years in prison, but his sentence was put on hold in favor of immediate deportation to his native Mexico. Falbe said the other three face deportation after they serve their prison terms. Raul Guzman will have to serve his sentence if he returns to this country.



COUNTY CRACKS DOWN ON ECSTASY

BY MIKE LAROSE
STAFF WRITER PIONEER PRESS GRAYSLAKE REVIEW
August 02, 2001

Since police officers first noticed ecstasy in Lake County four years ago, it has spread like a disease among grade school to college-age youth. “If this had been a disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would have been out in force,” said Terry Lemming, director of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group. Though not classified as a disease, use of ecstasy has been found to be dangerous, and sometimes deadly. Efforts to keep ecstasy out of the county, and to increase awareness of parents, schools and youth about the presence and dangers of the drug, have been led by the Metropolitan Enforcement Group, which includes undercover officers from 28 law enforcement agencies. Officers run sting operations to catch ecstasy dealers, make presentations at schools and provide information on the group’s Web site www.lakecountymeg.org. “We at LCMEG decided to do something more because this ecstasy problem is so bad,” Lemming said. The problem went from 0 to 60 in four years. Last year, Lemming’s group made about 60 arrests involving ecstasy. He anticipates that the popularity of the drug will continue to grow.
In April, undercover officers seized 3,000 ecstasy pills and made four arrests in a sting operation in Gurnee. The seizure was said to be the largest ever in Lake County, with a street value of about $120,000.
Sheriff Gary Del Re is also concerned about the growing popularity of the so-called “club drug.”
Parents play a critical role, he said, and need to make sure they know where their children are on weekends, and what they’re doing. Although ecstasy is associated with all-night “rave” parties that attract teenagers, it can often be found wherever teenagers gather. In May 2000, at a rave party at the Antioch Country Club, undercover officers purchased ecstasy from three different people at the party. Dangerous drug And teenage ecstasy users don’t realize how dangerous the drug is. “I think there’s a tendency of teenagers to play down the risk of this drug,” Del Re said. Education is a good approach, because despite efforts to stem the flow of drugs into the United States, interdiction efforts only succeed in stopping 15 to 20 percent of the drugs from Mexico, said Del Re. Drug enforcement shouldn’t even be called a “War on Drugs,” because of that small percentage, he said. “It’s a catch phrase. It’s a buzz word that makes people feel good,” he said.
About 90 percent of the ecstasy distributed in the United States comes from Europe, said Lemming. It’s easier to conceal and smuggle than some other narcotics because it’s odorless. Officers have had to learn about the characteristics of the drug, which present different challenges than other illegal drugs.
“It’s a new drug and we’re still learning how to fight it,” Lemming said. Possession of ecstasy is a felony, and convicted offenders can receive probation, or up to three years in prison. Most first-time offenders are sentenced to probation and mandatory drug treatment, said Daniel Shanes, supervisor of the Drug Prosecutions Division of the Lake County State’s Attorney. “Our emphasis on first-time offenders who have drug problems is to try to put them on probation, to get them in a treatment program, to get them off the drug,” Shanes said. Cocaine remains the predominate drug in Lake County, but ecstasy is becoming more widely available, and is often sold by dealers who sell cocaine and other drugs, he said. When a dealer is caught selling cocaine and ecstasy, he would be prosecuted on the cocaine charge, a higher-level offense. Ecstasy bill But a bill before the state legislature could change that. The bill would bring ecstasy up to the same offense schedule as cocaine and heroin. There were more than 400 arrests in Lake County involving cocaine last year, said Shanes. Ecstasy is also known as MDMA, an abbreviation for its chemical name (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine). It is a stimulant with mild hallucinogenic properties, originally developed and patented by the pharmaceutical company Merck, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It was developed in Germany in 1912, for unknown uses. MDMA became illegal in the United States in 1985.
It is commonly taken orally in tablet or capsule form, though it is sometimes sold in powder form, and can be snorted or smoked. The user feels the effects within one hour, and the effects last from three to six hours.
Physical effects while under the influence include increased blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. Muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea and blurred vision may also be experienced. Use sometimes results in heart failure or stroke. Ecstasy affects brain serotonin levels, giving the user a feeling of peace, enhanced pleasure and emotional connection with others. It is sometimes called the “hug drug.”
Short-term effects of use include confusion, depression, sleep problems and severe anxiety. Studies have shown long-lasting damage to brain cells containing serotonin in heavy users of ecstasy. Memory and motor skills may also be altered. Certain behaviors can sometimes indicate ecstasy use, such as staying out all night, irritability and inability to sleep. Users will often carry baby pacifiers (for teeth clenching), and fluorescent light sticks for enhancing the visual experience. No deaths have been attributed to ecstasy use in Lake County, but Lemming said there have been deaths from the drug in McHenry and DuPage counties. DuPage County experienced a growth in ecstasy use before Lake County, he said. But it’s hard to gauge the exact magnitude of the problem. “It’s a lot worse than we think right now,” Lemming said.


DRUG RING LEADER GETS 12 YEARS
106 POUNDS OF MARIJUANA

By Art Peterson
Staff Writer The News Sun
November 11, 2002

MEG agents closed in at Deerfield hotel lot. A man described as the leader of a six-man ring who brought 106 pounds of marijuana to Lake County pleaded guilty Friday in Lake County Circuit Court to drug trafficking. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Edgar A. Llanes, 32, will also likely be deported to Mexico, after serving his prison sentence in Illinois, said Daniel Shanes, chief of the drug prosecution division of the state's attorney's office. Llanes, represented by attorney Jed Stone, entered a negotiated guilty plea to marijuana trafficking, a Super Class One offense. Aside from the negotiations, the charge carries a sentencing range of eight to 30 years. The original charge was a Super X offense, which carries a penalty of 12 to 60 years in prison. "We're very happy with the negotiations. Twelve years was appropriate. It is the most of any of the defendants who have pleaded guilty thus far. His role was the source of supply," said Julio Argueta, assistant state's attorney. Hidden microphones recorded Llanes stating, both in California and in Lake County, that he had the marijuana and intended to sell it, Shanes said. Llanes hired others to drive the drugs — packaged in 26 plastic-wrapped "bricks" — from California to Illinois while Llanes flew here to complete the sale, Shanes said. The marijuana, which police believe was grown in Mexico, had a street value of $400,000 to $500,000, Shanes said. "It was enough to get hundreds of school children in Lake County hooked on pot."
Five of the men were arrested in late March in the parking lot of a Deerfield hotel by investigators of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group. The sixth person was arrested later in California and brought to Lake County. Three of the men have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced; two others still await trial.
Rodrigo P. Gomez, 28, pleaded to a Super Class One charge and a negotiated 10-year sentence. Both Adam Flores, 21, and Edwin Gonzalez, 18, pleaded to Class One charges and negotiated six-year sentences. Walter T. Ruiz, 20, and Sergio B. Quintero, 23, await trial. All are San Diego residents, except for Quintero, a resident of Rowland Heights, Calif. Ruiz also maintains a residence in Tijuana, Mexico.



FOOTBALL PLAYER INDICTED ON DRUG CHARGES
ROUND LAKE MAN:
MEG TEAM SEIZES 1.5 POUNDS OF MARIJUANA, $10,000

By Chris Brenner
Staff Writer The News Sun
March 1, 2001


A Round Lake man who was in the running to be a quarterback for an Arena League football team in Chicago was indicted on drug charges Wednesday in Lake County.Also indicted were a North Chicago woman and a Waukegan man on robbery charges, said Jim Simonian, an assistant Lake County state’s attorney.
Adam Teach, 27, was indicted on one count of possession with intent to deliver marijuana and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana.At the time of arrest, Tesch had in his possession arrest 1.5 pounds of marijuana —with an estimated street value of $1,500 and $10,000 in cash, Simonian said.
Tesch played for the Lake County Vikings semipro football team for three years in the 1990s. In mid-February, he participated in a quarterback tryout for the Chicago Rush, a new franchise in the Arena League.
Tesch was arrested Feb. 15 at his home in the 700 block of North Petite Road by Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group agents, Simonian said. There they confiscated the marijuana and the money.
If convicted, he faces three to seven years in prison, Simonian said.Teach was released from custody after posting 10 percent of a $50,000 bond. He will be arraigned March 13 before Lake County Circuit Court Judge Mary Schostok in Circuit Court in Waukegan.



ISLAND LAKE MAN CONVICTED OF DRUG OFFENSE IN HIS ABSENCE

By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
August 01, 2003

A Lake County jury convicted an Island Lake man Thursday of selling a pound of cocaine to undercover police officers nearly three years ago. However, Besnick Saliu, 33, was not around to hear the bad news because he failed to return to court after the first day of testimony in his trial Wednesday. Circuit Judge James Booras issued an arrest warrant calling for Saliu to be held without bond. The prosecutor in the case fears Saliu may try to flee the country, if he has not already done so. Assistant State's Attorney Matthew Hoffman said Saliu is fluent in six languages and vacationed in Macedonia a little more than two weeks ago.
The cocaine case against Saliu has been pending since his Nov. 8, 2000, arrest. Hoffman said he believes Saliu panicked when he realized there would be no more continuances of the trial.
"He was sitting in the chair, evidence was being presented and the fingers were being pointed at him," Hoffman said. "I believe the fantasy world he had been living in broke apart, and he finally figured out he was going to be held accountable for what he did." Waukegan defense attorney Lou Pissios said he had no idea where his client was and declined to comment further. Saliu and two other men were selling a pound of cocaine for $14,500 in a parking lot at routes 12 and 22 when their customers revealed themselves to be agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group. Saliu, whose last known address was 3324 Greenwich Lane in Island Lake, was at the time the owner of the Island Cafe at 310 E. State St. Ricardo Sanchez, 22, an employee of the cafe, and Rene Gonzalez, 22, who lived with Sanchez in Wauconda, accompanied Saliu to the meeting where the cocaine was to be sold. After meeting with the undercover agents, Saliu opened the glove box of his 1992 Ford Taurus and handed agents the brick of cocaine. All three were arrested, and agents later found an additional 4¨ ounces of cocaine at the restaurant. Gonzalez pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine Feb. 23, 2001. She was sentenced to six months in jail and two years on probation.
Sanchez, who drove Saliu's car to the drug sale, was sentenced to 10 years in prison June 4, 2002.
Saliu faces up to 40 years in prison after his conviction Thursday. His sentencing is set for Sept. 12.
Hoffman said he is working with the FBI to set up a world-wide dragnet for Saliu.



LAKE ZURICH MAN FACES FELONY CHARGES AFTER POLICE STOP
By Harold G. Downs
Daily Herald Staff Writer
May 23, 2001

A 34-year-old Lake Zurich man faces felony drug charges after cocaine and marijuana were found at his home, police said. Fidel Hernandez, 157 Robertson Ave., was arrested at 2:30 p.m. May 17 on charges of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, Lake Zurich Commander Rodney Chesser said. Hernandez also was charged with unlawful possession of cannabis, unlawful possession of cannabis with intent to deliver, unlawful hidden compartments within a vehicle and improper use of registration, police said. Hernandez was initially stopped in Lake Zurich when police were alerted by Chicago police and United States Customs Service officials that his vehicle was suspected of carrying contraband, Chesser said. The vehicle was stopped by all three agencies and two large bags containing undisclosed amounts of marijuana were found in a hidden compartment, police said.
A subsequent investigation of Hernandez's home, with assistance from a Lake County sheriff's police canine unit, turned up about 25 pounds of marijuana, about 2 pounds of cocaine and more than $17,000, Chesser said. Hernandez was taken to the Lake County jail. He posted $7,500 bond on Sunday and was turned over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service due to his "immigration status," Chesser said.
Police are working with Lake County's Metropolitan Enforcement Group to investigate other leads the case has presented. A court date was not available. Hernandez could not be reached for comment Tuesday.



MAN RECEIVES THREE-YEAR SENTENCE
FOR GROWING MARIJUANA AT HOME

By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
April 06, 2002

A Lindenhurst man called an "industrialist" for the elaborate marijuana system he constructed in his home was sentenced to three years in jail Friday. Lanny Adleman, 38, will be allowed to leave jail only to work and attend drug and psychological counseling. Agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group raided Adleman's former home at 300 Robincrest Lane in March of last year and found it had, in large part, been converted to an indoor marijuana plantation. Agent Chad Roszkowiak testified there was a hydroponic growing system, in which plants are grown in water rather than soil, in use on all three floors of the home.
Sophisticated lighting systems mounted on tracks to simulate the effect of the sun on the plants cast an amber glow from windows in the house that was visible from surveillance positions police used during the investigation, Roszkowiak said. Close to 200 plants in every stage of development - from seedlings to several feet tall - were found in the house. Adleman kept records indicating he expected 11 harvests per year, police said. The plants were not producing common marijuana, Roszkowiak said, but a high-potency strain known as "Cali Bud" or "Dank" that sells for as much as $5,000 per pound, close to five times the price of lower-grade marijuana. "The man was an industrialist with the system he created for himself," Assistant State's Attorney Karen Lentz said. "A significant terrin the Department of Corrections is warranted to deter others from similar activity." Defense attorney Stephen Scheller said that Adleman should be given a chance at probation in order to continue the drug treatment program he began shortly after his arrest. "You have to look at not only the crime but the man himself," Scheller said. "He has had significant problems and has used marijuana on a daily basis since he was 15 years old." Adleman told Associate Judge Victoria Rossetti he had lost the house and the real estate business he started because of his arrest but considered himself fortunate.
"I have had a chance to stop smoking marijuana through my treatment," Adleman said. "My whole outlook on life has changed and I am looking forward to living drug free." Rossetti's sentence also requires Adleman to serve a four-year term of probation, including submitting to random drug testing and to perform 250 hours of community service.



OPERATION EARLY BIRD
NINETEEN ARRESTED AROUND COUNTY IN WARRANT SWEEP


THOMAS DELANY JR. / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Darlene Rivera searches Sheila Peasand of Zion during Operation Early Bird, conducted Friday by the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group. Peasant was charged with unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

By Chris Brenner Staff Writer
Saturday, December 02, 2000

More than 60 law-enforcement officers Friday arrested 19 people in Lake County who were wanted on outstanding arrest warrants, most of them on drug charges. Operation Early Bird was an organized and cooperative effort by federal, state, county and local law-enforcement officers to locate and apprehend drug law fugitives, said Metropolitan Enforcement Group Deputy Director Mark Piccoli. "We arrested some people who have been fugitives from the judicial system for quite some time," Piccoli said. "Many of those arrested face lengthy prison terms, which is one of the reasons these offenders have chosen to evade the justice system." Lake County Sheriff Gary Del Re and Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller assisted in coordinating the warrant sweep. Del Re said the sweep was the seventh similar operation, adding the sweeps "have consistently resulted in removing wanted persons from the streets of Lake County." Waller noted: "Our efforts against drug dealers continue from investigation to assuring fugitives are brought to justice." Piccoli said those fugitives arrested Friday "have made the decision not to accept responsibility for their actions and instead ignore the justice system. Our goal is to get these fugitives before the court to answer to their charges." Sgt. Bert Foster, Lake County Sheriff's Department Warrants Division supervisor, said the warrant sweeps will continue unannounced in Lake County. "We will target those offenders who continue to break the law and attempt to avoid the system, he said. Lake County Law enforcement agencies participating in the sweep included Fox Lake, Grayslake, Lake Zurich, Libertyville, Mundelein, Buffalo Grove, Antioch, Waukegan, Round Lake Beach, Round Lake Park, Round Lake Heights, Park City, Vernon Hills, Lake Villa, Highland Park, Wauconda, Tower Lakes, Hawthorn Woods, Lincolnshire, Deerfield and Winthrop Harbor. Also, the Lake County Sheriff's Department, the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, the Internal Revenue Service, Illinois State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation and DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group, .

Arrested were:

Pedro Munoz, 28, Waukegan, unlawful possession of marijuana.
Erasto Guadarrama, 36, Waukegan, unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
Mario Garcia, 22, Waukegan, unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
Jaylen Nix, 21, North Chicago, unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
Melinda Snow, 26, Waukegan, unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
Sheila Peasand, 39, Zion, unlawful possession of drug equipment.
Heriberto Cortez, 20, Waukegan, unlawful possession of marijuana.
Larry Morrical, 32, Zion, unlawful possession of drug equipment.
Richard Moore, 23, Round Lake Beach, unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
Leonard Casey, 47, Zion, unlawful possession of marijuana.
Cesar Carillo, 27, Waukegan, unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
Charles Patton, 23, Zion, unlawful possession of marijuana.
George Taylor, 42, Zion, unlawful possession of drug equipment.
Danielle Zito, 22, Vernon Hills, unlawful possession of marijuana.
Lawrence Hailey, 22, North Chicago, unlawful possession of marijuana.
Roger Johnson, 42, Park City, unlawful possession of marijuana.
Edward Towers, 28, North Chicago, domestic battery.
Nicholas Nave, 29, Wauconda, traffic.
Geovanni Gomez, 27, Lake Zurich, unlawful possession of marijuana.




LAKE COUNTY FUGITIVES GET POLICE WAKE-UP CALL

By John Flink Chicago Tribune
December 2, 2000


An early morning police sweep Friday targeting people wanted on warrants for drug-related charges resulted in the arrest of 19 people. Officers from the Lake County sheriff's office, the Metropolitan Enforcement Group and 25 local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies, made the arrests as part of Operation Early Bird.
More than 60 officers set out from the sheriff's Waukegan headquarters at 5 a.m. Friday. The hour was chosen because of the higher probability of finding people at home, authorities said. Several arrests were made while the fugitives were on the job. Additional arrests are expected next week, authorities said.
Officers approached the individuals' homes in groups of four to six. Each group of officers generally included representatives from local, state and federal agencies. The sweep "once again demonstrates the high level of cooperation and teamwork between the various Lake County law enforcement agencies," Lake County Sheriff Gary Del Re said. "This is the seventh time we have conducted operations of this nature, and these warrant sweeps have consistently resulted in removing wanted persons from the streets of Lake County."
Periodic sweeps to track down fugitives are one of the most effective tools available to authorities to stay on top of the continual flow of warrants issued by the Lake County state's attorney's office, Del Re said.
Most of the 12,000 or so warrants typically in force in Lake County are for relatively minor offenses. If someone forgets to show up in court for a traffic offense, a warrant will be generated. But some, like those targeted in Friday's sweep, are for more serious charges, such as drug violations. Seventeen of Friday's arrests were for drug-related charges. The other two arrested--one for a traffic offense and one for a domestic battery charge--happened to be caught in the net, authorities said. "This sweep went well, and nobody put up any resistance," said Lake County Sgt. Bert Foster, who coordinated the sweep. "One woman, the mother of a girl we arrested in Vernon Hills, was outraged that we brought so many officers to arrest her daughter. She said that her daughter is a nice girl, but we don't know that. We have a job to do and we have to do it safely."
People wanted on warrants can be difficult to find because they tend to move around, officials said.
Sometimes officers are able to arrest them at their places of employment, which can be embarrassing and provide a powerful incentive to heed their next calls to court, Foster said. Surrenders are common in the days following sweeps because word gets around that police are on the prowl.



LAKE COUNTY WARRANT SWEEP ROUNDS UP 19 DRUG FUGITIVES

By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Staff Writer
December 02, 2000

The Grinch carried a badge on Friday.
The holiday plans of 19 fugitives, sought mainly on drug crimes, were disrupted with arrests by teams of officers from almost every Lake County police department and two federal agencies. Dubbed "Operation Early Bird," the warrant sweep, coordinated by the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group and Lake County sheriff's office, was aimed at suspects who had been released on bond, then failed to appear in court.
"These are people who committed offenses then made conscious decisions to ignore the judicial system," MEG Deputy Director Mark Piccoli said. "Our goal is to find them and return them to the system."
Just after 5 a.m., more than 65 officers divided into teams of five and spread throughout the county in search of 70 fugitives wanted for failing to appear in court this year and in 1999. One team, comprised of MEG Special Agent Chris Thompson, FBI Agents Daniel McCune and Michael Biegalski, Hawthorn Woods Patrolman Armondo Escamilla and Lincolnshire Patrolman T.J. Beale, found the early going rough. A woman at a house in North Chicago said the person being sought lived there at one time but no longer did. The grandparents of a second fugitive in Waukegan said he had moved to California. And on and on and on.
"It is always a gamble when you are seeking someone on a warrant, especially on drug charges," Thompson said. "These people change addresses like most people change clothes." Erasto Guadarrama was at least one address change short because he opened the door to the house at 3100 Ezekiel Ave. in Zion where police had been told to find him. Piccoli said Guadarrama, 36, has been wanted since last March when he missed a court appearance for possession of cocaine and was ordered held on $15,000 bond after his arrest.
Some people sought in the warrant sweep ended up having their legal woes multiply. Jaylen Nix, 21, of 2841 18th St. in North Chicago, was already facing a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana when he missed a court date in July. When police located him at the Buffalo Grove electronics firm where he works, they say Nix had about 10 grams of marijuana in his pocket and a new misdemeanor charge of possession was added to his file. His bond was set at $5,000. Sgt. Bert Foster, head of the warrants division of the Lake County Sheriff's office, said the warrants served Friday come from a stockpile dating to 1979 between 13,000 and 14,000 on a given day, although many suspects have multiple warrants waiting for them.
Sheriff Gary Del Re said he authorized the seventh warrant sweep in the past two years to go forward on Friday in spite of recent overcrowding problems at the jail. "We were confident that we would be able to accommodate any and all people picked up," Del Re said. "The fact that we have at times a crowded jail does not mean we are not going to take wanted criminals off the streets."


POLICE ARREST WAUCONDA MAN AFTER DRUG RAID

By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
June 28, 2001

A Wauconda man was arrested Tuesday night after police found 120 marijuana plants and six ounces of hallucinogenic mushrooms in a search of his home, officials said. Police also said they confiscated $12,740 in cash from Matthew McKown, 25, during the raid on his home at 27119 Anderson Road. Terry Lemming, director of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, said a tip from a citizen led police to get a search warrant for McKown's home. Metropolitan Enforcement Group agents arrived at the house about 9 p.m. Tuesday, Lemming said, and discovered the marijuana plants and mushrooms containing the drug psilocybin in the basement. Police estimated the value of the drugs at about $150,000. Lemming said the cash was confiscated because it is believed to be profits from drug sales. Court records indicate McKown served terms of court supervision after convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana in 1993 and 1994. Assistant State's Attorney Daniel Shanes said McKown is charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver and unlawful production of marijuana. He could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the charges, Shanes said. Associate Judge Joseph Waldeck ordered McKown held on $20,000 bond and told him to appear in court again July 13.



POLICE CONFISCATE ELABORATE DRUG SETUP

BY TONY GORDON
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
March 7, 2001

Police seized more than 200 pounds of marijuana and a complex indoor growing system Monday evening during a raid on a home in Lindenhurst. Mark Piccoli, deputy director of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, said Lanny Adleman, 37, had 196 marijuana plants growing on all three levels of his home at 300 Robincrest Lane. The plants were being cultivated in a hydroponic growing system — incorporating high-intensity lights, irrigation tubes and tubs — Piccoli said was worth several thousands of dollars.
"It was without a doubt the most sophisticated growing system I have seen and it was spread from the basement to the second floor of the house," Piccoli said. Agents confiscated the plants, which weighed about 1 pound each, and another 11 pounds of grown marijuana, which was in the process of being dried. Piccoli said. The product is believed to be as high-tech as the production. Piccoli said the strain of marijuana Adleman was growing is known as "California Bud "Cali Bud" or "Dank." State police say the extremely potent strain is often sold for as much as $10 a gram at the retail level and can command a price of between $4,000
and $6,000 per pound wholesale, well above the customary price of between $1,200 and $1,600 for a pound.
Estimates of the street value of the drug range from between $948,000 and $1.2 million, police said.
Piccoli said Metropolitan Enforcement Group agents have been investigating reports of Adleman’s activities for several months and just recently developed enough information to secure a search warrant.
The warrant was served on the residence with the assistance of Lindenhurst police about 6:30 p.m. Monday, Piccoli said. Adleman, who received probation after a 1983 conviction for drug possession, arrived at the residence while police were in the course of the search and was taken into custody without incident.
He appeared in court Tuesday morning before Associate Judge Joseph Waldeck, charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver and marijuana cultivation. Waldeck appointed the public defender’s office to represent Adleman. set his bond at $75,000 and ordered him to appear in court again March
27. Assistant State’s Attorney Ken LaRue said Adleman faces a mandatory prison sentence of between six and 30 years if convicted of the charges against him. Public Defender David Brodsky declined to comment on the case.



POLICE DESTROY FIELD FULL OF POT

By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
September 07, 2002












Nearly $6.5 million worth of marijuana was destroyed earlier this week when Lake County narcotics agents found it growing in a field near Wadsworth.

Police from the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group discovered 4,325 pot plants growing in a field north of Route 173 and east of Route 41 about 11 a.m. Thursday.
MEG supervisor Chad Roszkowiak said most of the crop was well on its way to market.
"The plants ranged in height from 1 foot to 8 feet tall, with the greater majority of them being approximately 6 feet," he said. "The plants were mature and were obviously being well taken care of. They would have soon been ready for harvest."

MEG agents received a tip the plants were growing in the area, and cut them down and burned them on the spot, Roszkowiak said. They also have information about who may have planted and cared for the plants, he said, and are continuing their investigation. Police estimate each plant was capable of producing marijuana worth $1,500 on the street, bringing the total value of the find to $6.48 million.
Assistant State's Attorney Dan Shanes, chief of the drug prosecution division, said the seizure may represent the largest single confiscation of marijuana in the county's history. Sheriff Gary Del Re, whose department is among the many that contribute investigators and funds to MEG, praised the work that led to the discovery.
"It is always a very good day when police are able to get drugs before they even get to the street, and this was a significant interdiction," Del Re said. "The work of MEG in this case is another fine example of how things happen when police agencies pool their resources and work toward a common goal."



IN WAKE OF DEATHS, POLICE WARN PUBLIC OF 'CLUB DRUGS'

By Meta Levin
Daily Herald Correspondent
October 24, 2000

The presentation on "club drugs" was an education for Lake Forest resident Suzanne Zimmerman. During Monday's two-hour talk, Zimmerman and other parents learned about the popularity of the drugs, their effects and the dangers they pose to users. "I'm going to talk to my children and tell them a few things I learned today," Zimmerman vowed. Co-sponsored by Lake Forest-based LEAD (Leading Edge Against Drugs) and State Rep. Susan Garrett, the program featured state police from a task force on illegal drugs, gangs and weapons. The program was organized, in part, as a response to a discussion by a group of parents about a state bill designed to set stronger penalties for selling what are known as "club," "rave," or "designer" drugs. There have been three recent deaths in McHenry, Naperville and Lisle tied to the drugs, the crowd was told by Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Terry Lemming, director of the Lake County office of the Metropolitan Enforcement Group, and Master Sgt. Mark Henry from the DuPage County office of the group. Undercover officers from Lemming's group arrested two people accused of selling these drugs at a Memorial Day weekend "rave" party in Antioch. Rave promoters bill the parties as "alcohol free," lulling parents into thinking they are safe for teens to attend, Lemming said. "They usually are alcohol free," he said. "But the drugs are readily available." The Metropolitan Enforcement Group's Web site at www.lakecountymeg.org lists common drugs and danger signs for which parents can be on the alert.Lemming and Henry ticked off the most popular drugs: Ecstasy, or MDMA, which causes euphoria and reduced inhibitions; PMA, which is more popular than Ecstasy and causes rapid pulse and elevated body temperature; methamphetamines, or meth, speed; and the old '60s standby LSD, which causes hallucinations. "These substances are being taken by kids who we don't normally think of as traditional drug users," said Micki Jones, LEAD director. Zimmerman, who has two teenage children, said the presentation made her concerned. While she doesn't allow her children to go to teen clubs, she knows of other parents who do. "They don't know where their kids are or what they are doing," she said. "That's disturbing to me. The kids trust other kids to tell them what's safe."




RECORD ECSTASY SEIZURE MADE; FOUR ARRESTED

By Tony Gordon
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
April 15, 2001

Four people were arrested late Friday night in what authorities are calling the largest seizure of the club drug Ecstasy in Lake County history. Terry Lemming director of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, said more than 3,000 doses of the drug were confiscated from the group’s hotel room in Gurnee.
He said the drugs have a street value of $120,000. Lemming said Rusty Burgess, 27, of Blacksburg, S.C., and Vichitra Prasongphine, 24, of Kings Mountain, N.C., are charged with drug possession and armed violence after both were caught with loaded handguns. John Travis Queen, 24, of Kings Mountain, N.C., was charged with drug possession and Kimberly Bridges, 19, of Shelby, N.C., was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana, Lemming said. MEG agents met with Burgess and Queen in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant near Gurnee Mills around 8 p.m. Friday to buy the drug in a sale they had prearranged through phone calls, Lemming said. Both were taken into custody before the transaction was completed, Lemming said, in part because Burgess made it known to the under cover agents be was armed.
Agents then secured a search warrant for their rooms at the Holiday Inn at 6100 Grand Ave., Lemming said, and discovered the drugs in several plastic bags and Prasongphine in possession of another gun.
No Ecstasy was found in Bridges’ room, but a small amount of marijuana was recovered. She was released after posting $50 bond. "These pills definitely came from overseas, and we suspect that is how four people from coastal states came to be in our area with them," Lemming said. ‘They can make a lot more money selling them here then they can at home. Burgess and Prasongphine face mandatory prison sentences of between 15 and 60 years if convicted while Queen faces a term between 12 and 60 years. All three were ordered held on $1 million bond.



THREE FACE ECSTACY DRUG CHARGES
3,000 HITS: OUT-OF-STATERS ARRESTED AT MCDONALD'S

By Chris Brenner
STAFF WRITER
April 17, 2001

GURNEE — Three suspects charged with possession and intended sale of more than 3,000 hits of the club drug Ecstasy valued at about $120,000 remain in the Lake County Jail on $100,000 bonds, police said.
They, along with another suspect who is charged with unlawful possession of cannabis, were arrested Friday by agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group after an undercover agent allegedly purchased some Ecstasy from two of them at the McDonald's restaurant at 6380 Grand Ave., police said.
Arrested at McDonald's were Rusty Lee Burgess, 27, of Blacksburg, S.C. and John Queen, 24, of Kings Mountain, N.C. Burgess is charged with armed violence, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Queen is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, according to police. After the alleged drug sale transaction, a search of the suspects yielded a loaded handgun and a hotel key from a hotel in the 6100 block of Grand Avenue. Both men consented to a search of the hotel room where agents found more than 1,500 grams of Ecstasy and another loaded handgun.
Two women in the hotel room were arrested. They are Vichitra Prasongphine, 22, of Kings Mountain, N.C. who is charged with armed violence, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Also arrested was Kimberly Bridges, 20, of Shelby, N.C. who was charged with unlawful possession of cannabis. She was released from custody on a personal recognizance bond, police said.
If convicted on the Class X felonies, Burgess, Queen and Prasongphine all face six to 30 years in prison, police said. MEG Director Terry Lemming said the profit is high in selling club drugs and the four suspects were probably in the area because they can get more money for the drug than if they sold it in the Carolinas.
"They wouldn't tell us why they were here," he said. Ecstasy is known by its chemical name as
3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).



SEARCHES IN WAUKEGAN YIELD SIX ILLEGAL GUNS, ONE ARREST

By Chris Brenner
Staff Writer The News Sun
August 20, 2000

WAUKEGAN — Police agencies seized six illegal firearms this week in two residences, arrested one man and are seeking at least one other suspect, authorities said. On Thursday, officers from the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group and the Waukegan Police Department executed a search warrant at a residence of a known gang member in the 2300 block of Chinook Road. On Tuesday, the Waukegan Police Department Neighborhood Enforcement Team seized two guns in a garage in the 500 block of South Avenue and arrested one man, according to Sgt. Jon Oliver, commander of the team. During the search of the home on Chinook Road, officers found four firearms: a sawed-off shotgun, an assault rifle, a rifle and a pistol described as a "Saturday night special," said Terry Lemming of the Lake County MEG. Owners of the weapons were not at home at the time of the search. One person is being sought by police. There may be others as evidence is developed, Lemming said. Criminal charges are pending. "None of the weapons seized has any practical sporting or target shooting applicability," said Master Sgt. Mark Piccoli, deputy director of Lake County MEG. "These guns, especially the shotgun and assault rifle, typify the types of weapons sought by gang members for use in criminal activities." Oliver said the gun seizure on South Avenue resulted from a tip to police that a street gang was hiding weapons in the garage there. The homeowner, David Harris, 64, gave written permission for police to search the garage, Oliver said. Harris was later arrested on gun charges after police found a sawed-off shotgun and a semiautomatic 9 mm handgun in the garage. Harris was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon and failure to have a firearm's owner identification card, Oliver said.



THREE ARRESTED IN DRUG INVESTIGATION

By Chris Brenner
Staff Writer The News Sun
October 21, 2000

WHEELING — Three Wheeling men were arrested Thursday after police seized nearly two kilograms of cocaine with a street value of more than $600,000, police said. The arrest ended a one-month investigation that began in Mundelein by the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group and the Mundelein and Wheeling police departments. Arrested were Luis Ocampo, 24, Romano Florez, 34, and Roberto Diaz, 22, all of the 600 block of Wayne Avenue, Wheeling. Police said the investigation began after Mundelein police received information that Ocampo was dealing cocaine in the Mundelein area. Undercover agents then began purchasing cocaine from the three men. The investigation ended when Ocampo and Florez delivered one kilogram of cocaine to the agents, police said. Diaz was arrested after a search of his residence uncovered four ounces of cocaine, two ounces of cannabis and $4,800 in cash. Police also searched the residence of another suspect in the 800 block of McHenry Avenue where 670 grams of cocaine and $21,000 in cash were seized. Charges for the 670 grams of cocaine are pending further investigation, police said.
According to police, a vehicle owned by Ocampo was also searched and 820 grams of cannabis and 60 grams of cocaine were uncovered. In all, police said, nearly two kilograms of cocaine with a street value of more than $600,000, more than $26,000 in cash and numerous amounts of drug paraphernalia including electronic scales were seized. Ocampo was charged with three counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance and three counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Florez was charged with one count each of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Diaz was charged with one count of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver and two counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance.




TWO ACCUSED OF HAVING $300,000 WORTH OF DRUGS

By James D. Wolf Jr.
Daily Herald Staff Writer
August 01, 2001

A package of marijuana sent from Arizona resulted in the arrest of two Des Plaines men Tuesday not only for the package, but also marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy and two guns found in their home, police said. Des Plaines police did not provide the weight of the package they said contained marijuana, but said the total amount seized was about 30 pounds. Police estimated the street value of all the drugs at $300,000. Ted Ahn, 21, and Admon Khoshaba, 27, both of 493 Leslie Court in Des Plaines, each have been charged with two counts of possession of cannabis with intent to deliver, two counts of unlawful cannabis trafficking, two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. They also face a charge each of possession of a controlled substance for 12 Ecstasy pills found in their apartment, police said. Ahn was arrested at 4:55 p.m. after a Des Plaines tactical officer posing as a Fed Ex employee delivered the package to the apartment, police said. The package had been intercepted in Tempe, Ariz., and sent on to the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group. Ahn accepted delivery of the package and was arrested. When Khoshaba arrived home, he was arrested. Police searched the apartment and found 120 grams of cocaine, the 12 tablets of Ecstasy, drug paraphernalia and two firearms. They also found a total of 30 pounds of cannabis, police said. Both men have an Aug. 28 court date in Cook County circuit court in Skokie. Des Plaines police tactical unit members worked with the Lake County MEG agents and Tempe, Ariz., police on the bust.