Fifteen Charged in Gun-Running Probe
|FBI Chicago December 15, 2011|
Fifteen Chicago men were charged in grand jury indictments or criminal complaints filed earlier this week in either U.S. District Court or Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago with violating state or federal firearms laws.
The charges were announced today by Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), together with Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Garry F. McCarthy, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD); and Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s Attorney.
Thirteen of the defendants were arrested yesterday at various locations in and around Chicago, without incident, by members of the Chicago FBI’s Joint Task Force on Gangs and officers from the CPD. Two other defendants MARCUS JEFFERSON and TERRILL SMITH, avoided capture and are now the subjects of a nationwide manhunt.
Six of those arrested were charged in separate federal grand jury indictments with felon in possession of a firearm and/or distribution of a controlled substance. Those charged federally are identified as MARCUS JEFFERSON, age 31; MAURICE MARTIN, age 41; CARLOS MENDEZ, age 33; KEITH MURRAY, 45; TERRILL SMITH, age 23; and BRUCE WEATHERSPOON, age 30; all residents of Chicago. An additional defendant, RAMON FAVELA, age 38, also of Chicago, was arrested and subsequently charged in a criminal complaint with possession and distribution of a controlled substance.
Eight others were charged in criminal complaints filed in state court with unlawful sale of a firearm or unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. The state defendants are identified as AARON BASSETT, age 22; COREY BRAMLETT, age 19; TRIMELL COLLINS, age 27; GREGORY FREEMAN, age 23; DAVID HILL, age 22; CORNELIUS LEE, age 28; JAMES TOOMER, age 27; and CARLOS WILLIAMS, age 39, all residents of Chicago.
According to the grand jury indictments and criminal complaints, all of those charged were involved in the illegal possession or sale of firearms, including handguns, shotguns and assault rifles on Chicago’s west and south sides, since April of 2010. These weapons are alleged to have been purchased outside of Illinois, transported to Chicago where the defendants took possession of them, then eventually sold to undercover operatives for amounts ranging from $ 250.00 to $1600.00.
The investigation leading to the filing of the charges announced today is part of an ongoing and coordinated effort by the FBI and CPD’s Organized Crime Bureau and Gang Investigations Division to identify those responsible for illegally supplying firearms to Chicago’s criminal element, which are often used in street violence. During the course of this investigation, which incorporated sophisticated physical and electronic surveillance techniques and controlled undercover purchases, 48 firearms were recovered.
In announcing these arrests, Mr. Grant recognized the continued partnership with law enforcement at every level in combating violent street gangs. Said Mr. Grant, “The charges announced today reaffirm the FBI’s role in helping to stem the tide of violence in the City of Chicago and surrounding suburbs brought about by street gangs vying for control of lucrative drug trafficking locations.”
Additionally, the FBI is grateful for the assistance and support provided by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Illinois State Police Forensic Laboratory, the Cook County Sheriff’s Intelligence Unit and the Illinois Department of Corrections.
“Gun violence is one of the toughest problems we face in the fight against crime,” said Superintendent McCarthy. “Chicago Police will continue collaborative efforts with our law enforcement partners in order to stop the influx of illegal firearms onto our City’s streets, and to keep these deadly weapons out of the hands of criminals responsible for drug and gang related violence in our communities,” he added.
“Today’s arrests are crucial in our ongoing efforts to target and cut off the flow of illegal weapons onto our streets which is driving the violence plaguing so many of our communities,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. She added “The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office stands united with our partners in sharing all of our resources to continue to target and aggressively prosecute this type of gun trafficking.”
Those charged federally appeared in U.S. District Court in Chicago late yesterday and today, at which time they were formally charged. Two of the defendants were ordered held without bond, pending their next court appearance, which is scheduled for Monday, December 19. The remaining defendants were released on house arrest and electronic monitoring. If convicted of the charges filed against them, all seven federal defendants face a possible sentence ranging from 10 years to life in prison.
Those charged in state court appeared at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse earlier today, at which time they were formally charged. All eight defendants were ordered held on bonds ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 and all face sentences ranging from three to seven years in prison.
The Chicago FBI’s Joint Task Force on Gangs is comprised of FBI special agents and officers from the Chicago Police Department.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Copies of the federal grand jury indictments and criminal complaints filed in this case are available from the Chicago FBI’s press office at (312) 829-1199. Copies of the criminal complaints filed in state court are available from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office at (312) 603-1839.