A west suburban man who allegedly led the Chicago-area cell of a Mexican drug trafficking cartel is among eight people facing federal drug charges for their role in a heroin distribution ring.
Alleged cell leader Pablo Vega Cuevas, 40, and his brother-in-law, 37-year-old Alexander Figueroa, were arrested Tuesday morning in southeast Oklahomac, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office. They appeared in federal court and were ordered transferred to Chicago.
Vega, of Aurora, led the local cell of the Guerrero Unidas Mexican cartel, working with various narcotics sources in Mexico to import wholesale amounts of heroin and cocaine to Illinois, according to federal prosecutors.
The cartel would often conceal the drugs in passenger buses, according to prosecutors. It then stored drugs at warehouses in Aurora and Batavia before selling them for cash.
Three others suspects—Eliseo Betancourt Pereira, 50, of Aurora; Roberto Sanchez, 39, of Chicago; and Isaias Mandujano, 29, of Rockford—were arrested Tuesday in the Chicago area.
All three appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney I. Schenkier and remain in federal custody pending detention hearings Thursday and Friday.
There are also outstanding arrests for three other suspects—Wilfredo Flores-Santos, 43, of North Aurora; Jose Rodriguez, 31, of Chicago; and Arturo Martinez, 33 or 34, thought to be in Mexico.
All of the defendants except Mandujano were charged with conspiring to possess and distribute a kilogram or more of heroin, according to the statement. Mandujano was charged with possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin.
The investigation has netted about 68 kilograms of heroin, nine kilograms of cocaine and more than $500,000 in cash since August 2013, according to the statement.
“This operation strikes at a major Mexican drug trafficking organization that is alleged to have routinely distributed large quantities of heroin and cocaine throughout the Midwest,” Dennis Wichern, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the DEA, said in the statement.
“These arrests will have a significant effect on the supply and distribution of heroin and cocaine in the Chicago area,” he said.