A heroin and cocaine ring that brought drugs into the U.S. from Mexico has been busted with 22 defendants arrested and $3.9 million in cash recovered from a home in north suburban Park Ridge, the feds say.
The operation — led by the Chicago Strike Force of federal and local law enforcement — covered California, Oregon, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and the Chicago area, according to a series of federal complaints.
It’s further evidence of what authorities have long alleged: that cartels are using Chicago as a U.S. hub for drug trafficking.
Raids beginning Monday night saw 14 defendants arrested in the Chicago area. They follow the April 2013 arrest of Victor Mata Madrigal, 37, of Lombard, who allegedly imported wholesale amounts of cocaine and marijuana from Mexico into Chicago for distribution.
That same day agents seized nearly $4 million in alleged drug money from Madrigal’s organization from a home in the 700 block of North Lincoln in Park Ridge.
Madrigal allegedly moved so much marijuana that his crew needed a fork lift truck to unload it from trailers, continuing to run the drug operation while he was in custody, the feds say. Another roughly $500,000 and a kilo of cocaine were seized Tuesday from a home in Philadelphia. A gun, thousands of dollars of cash and heroin and cocaine were also taken by the Strike Force in Chicago this week.
In all, $5 million cash was seized. Many of the defendants face up to 40 years in prison if convicted of a number of drug offenses. Most are due to attend detention hearings in Chicago later this week.
While the case is one of the larger busts in recent years, it pales besides the earlier indictment of Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El-Chapo” Guzman-Loera, who was captured in Mexico earlier this year and may one day be brought to Chicago to stand trial.