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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Feds Link 15 to Mexican Drug Cartel

Indicted suspects distributed millions in coke: prosecutors

Chicago Suntimes

Fifteen suspected members of a Chicago distribution cell of a Mexican drug cartel were indicted Thursday for allegedly distributing thousands of kilograms of cocaine in the Chicago area and collecting millions of dollars.

The Chicago office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration seized 250 kilograms of cocaine and $8 million during an investigation that started in 2007 and focused on the Mexican drug-trafficking cartel La Familia Michoacana, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

The seizures were mostly in the suburbs, including Berwyn, Bolingbrook, Oak Lawn, Hickory Hills, Joliet and Justice.

A total of seven separate indictments were unsealed Thursday. All 15 suspects were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine.

They were initially arrested and charged in August, and the indictments seek as much as $20 million in forfeited profits.

One member in Mexico and several members in the Chicago area formed a "command and control group designed for efficient distribution," according to the indictment.

The alleged supervisors of the Chicago operation were Jorge Luis Torres-Galvan, 31, of Danforth, Ill., and Jose Gonzalez-Zavala, 37, of Joliet, according to court records.

Ismael Flores, 35, of Dallas allegedly acted as a cash courier, transporting millions from Chicago to Dallas in May 2008 and April 2009.

The investigation was part of Project Coronado, a multi-agency narcotics investigation that focused on La Familia's distribution network throughout the United States, and which last month resulted in federal charges against more than 300 defendants in 19 states, the release said. The cartel is based in the state of Michoacan in southwestern Mexico.

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