August 21, 2009
Sun-Times News Group
Thirty-six people in Chicago and Mexico were indicted today as federal authorities try to disrupt a massive Mexico-to-Chicago cocaine operation.
The indictments included a Romeoville man.
The people involved were bringing 1,500 to 2,000 kilos of cocaine a month to Chicago from the most powerful drug traffickers in Mexico, officials said.
U.S. Attorney statement
"These are the most significant drug importation conspiracies ever charged in Chicago," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said. "The indictments charge two major international supply organizations with importing many tons of cocaine and quantities of heroin into the United States, often to wholesale distribution customers in Chicago."
Authorities, led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, are seeking to seize $1.8 billion in cash.
Ten people indicted in connection with the case live in the south suburbs:
• Cesar Perez, 30, of Romeoville, "Nas" and "Nose"
• Antonio Aguilera, 35, of Oak Lawn, aka "T-Bag" and "T"
• Ammer Karoum, 30, of Oak Lawn, aka "ATA"
• Carlos Hishmeh,32, of Oak Lawn
• Juan Rocha, 36, of Palos Hills
• Malek Rafati, 30, of Burbank
• Taha Zaid, 23, of Oak Lawn
• Tommie Jones, 50, of Orland Hills, aka "Mike Jones," "Old Man Jones," and "Grandpa"
• Franklin Brown, 42, of Matteson, aka "Skinny"
• Ron Collins, 35, of Calumet Park, aka "Ron Ron"
Also among those charged are twin brothers from Chicago -- Pedro and Margarito Flores -- who, according to federal authorities, controlled Chicago's distribution cell in the operation.
The Flores brothers were allegedly supplied by two warring cartel factions that have contributed to escalating violence in Mexico, including one reputedly led by Joaquin "el Chapo" Guzman-Loera and Ismael "el Mayo" Zambada-Garcia, and another authorities said was led by Arturo Beltran-Leyva. They are described as the most powerful drug traffickers in Mexico, each of which threatened the Flores brothers with acts of violence if they did business with the other, authorities said.
The Flores brothers, who are in custody, had done business with each, authorities said.