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Chicago man found guilty of drug charges, RICO violations

Terrence Steele | photo from the DuPage County Sheriff’s office

(WHEATON) A jury found a Northwest Side man guilty of drug charges following a six-month-long investigation into an alleged drug ring operating in Cook and DuPage counties.

Terrence Steele, 36, of the 1600 block of North Parkside, was one of 31 people arrested on various drug trafficking and possession charges; and violations of the state’s Street Gang and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Law (RICO), according to a statement from the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office.

On Friday, he was found guilty of possessing and selling heroin, and also became the first person convicted in DuPage County under the state’s new RICO law, prosecutors said.

Under the RICO law, individuals facing specific charges such as drug trafficking face stiffer penalties if it can be proved their illegal activities were part of a larger criminal conspiracy involving others and conducted over a period of time, prosecutors said.

To date, Steele is the highest-ranking member of the alleged drug ring to be tried and sentenced, prosecutors said. The alleged ringleader — 26-year-old Andres Garcia of the 4900 block of West Concord Place in Chicago — is awaiting trial on similar charges and is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 21.

Steele is scheduled for post-trial motions and return of a pre-sentence report on Dec. 12, prosecutors said.

“While Mr. Steele may be the first defendant found guilty of violating our RICO law, I am confident he will not be the last,” State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in the statement.

“This is an important law that will be put to good use as we work to rid our streets of these drug dealers who seek to enrich their lives at the expense of others.”