Heights police partnered with the federal government to take down one of the biggest illegal drug operations in the history of Chicago Heights last Friday, according to the mayor's office.
Police teamed with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in April 2012 and conducted an eight-month investigation, leading to the arrest of Juan Serrano and Raul Rangel-Dominguez (aka Antonio Lopez), both living in Chicago Heights. D.E.A. agents and police officers executed the bust at 405 West 15th St.
DEA Special Agent Owen Putman provided an account of the bust in a news release:
The investigation subsequently revealed that Rangel-Dominguez was involved in a drug transaction of three kilograms of cocaine between his source of supply, an individual identified as Juan Serrano, Jr. and others. A price of $35,500.00 per kilogram or a total of $106,500.00 for all three kilograms was agreed upon and Rangel-Dominguez negotiated a commission $500.00 per kilogram, for himself.
About 25 federal agents and Heights police officers detained Rangel-Dominguez, Serrano and Rangel-Dominguez’ uncle before getting a search warrant for Serrano’s convertible. Inside the vehicle investigators found "a sophisticated electronically controlled hidden compartment located in the back seat speakers."
Inside the compartment, investigators found seven pounds of cocaine, a pound of heroin, a loaded .50 Caliber Desert Eagle semi-automatic handgun, an AK-47 assault rifle with two loaded magazines, and a high-capacity 50-round drum magazine. The drugs are valued at about $1 million on the street, according to Police Lt. David Basile.
See photos of the convertible and hidden compartments in our photo gallery.
Rangel-Dominguez was the target of the investgation, Putman said. He was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, which is a Class X felony.
Serrano also picked up a charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, but was also charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin, armed violence, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon for the pistol and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon for the AK-47 rifle.
D.E.A. Special Agent Jack Riley spoke about the bust at a press conference held at the Chicago Heights Police Department courthouse Wednesday. Riley said the Sinaloa Cartel, headed by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is a No. 1 prority in the midwest.
"Most of the narcotics we're dealing with here were supplied by the Mexican criminal organizations, commonly referred to as the cartels," Riley said.
Riley said while the hidden compartments in the convertable were not uncommon, it is strange to see them in Chicago Heights. "This isn't unusual," Riley said. "It's something that's alarming because it shows that we're beginning to see this kind of sophistication outside of the city of Chicago."
The D.E.A. will be working with the Chicago Heights Police Department in the future, according to Riley.
“The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency undertook a critical role in the eight-month investigation that led to one of the largest drug busts ever in Chicago Heights,” Gonzalez said. “The message sent by the investigation and bust is clear: drug dealers, your time is up in Chicago Heights.”
Gonzalez thanks Chicago Heights Police Chief Charles A. Guiliani Jr. and the police department for their efforts and cooperation with the D.E.A.
Read last week's police stories on Chicago Heights Patch:
- Woman Uses Pregnancy Pants to Smuggle Steaks Out of Ultra Foods: Police
- Argument Over Change Leads to Gun Threats: Police Blotter
- Second Prison Escapee Arrested in Palos Hills