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Evanston man gets 8 years for drug trafficking, money laundering

A north suburban man was sentenced Thursday to eight years in federal prison for distributing more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and using the proceeds to buy several luxury vehicles.

Jonathan Tankson, 32, of Evanston, pleaded guilty in June to one count of conspiracy to posses a controlled substance with the intent to deliver and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly imposed a 96-month sentence in federal court in Chicago.

Between December 2010 and December 2013, Tankson would bring at least $400,000 in cash on a plane and fly to California at least twice every month to purchase between 100 and 200 pounds of marijuana at a time, prosecutors said. The drugs would then be shipped on vans and tractor trailers to stash houses, once of which was located in Lincoln Park and another in a penthouse apartment in River West.

When he was arrested in December 2013, Tankson’s Lincoln Park neighborhood stash house contained more than $1 million in cash, about 75 kilograms of marijuana stored in plastic bags, five suitcases filled with marijuana, 20 rounds of 9mm ammunition and two 9mm pistol magazines, prosecutors said.

Tankson used the drug proceeds to buy several luxury vehicles through straw purchasers, prosecutors said. Between June 2011 and December 2013, Tankson orchestrated the purchase of a Porsche Cayenne SUV for $140,000; a Mercedes-Benz S63 sedan for $108,000; and an Audi A8 sedan for $80,000, among others, prosecutors said. He admitted in the plea agreement that the vehicle purchases were intended to conceal the source of the drug proceeds.

The money laundering investigation led two more convictions. Songhane Traore, who orchestrated the straw purchases of Tanksons vehicles, is scheduled for a Sept. 8 sentencing hearing; and Jerome B. Marshall, who helped Tankson lease the Lincoln Park home, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Kennelly on Sept. 15, prosecutors said.