35 charged with trafficking heroin, fentanyl in Chicago area

SHARE 35 charged with trafficking heroin, fentanyl in Chicago area

Dirksen Federal Courthouse, 219 S. Dearborn. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Charges have been filed against 35 people as part of a joint federal and state investigation into heroin and fentanyl trafficking in the Chicago area, primarily on the city’s West Side.

The investigation, dubbed “Operation Road Rage,” spanned multiple years and largely focused on drug trafficking in the West Garfield Park neighborhood, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.

Authorities seized a kilogram of heroin, “most of which contained fentanyl,” as well as four vehicles, five guns and about $100,000 in cash as part of the investigation, prosecutors said.

A federal criminal complaint filed last week describes a trafficking operation that involved drivers delivering heroin laced with fentanyl to customers who called a hotline to place orders. Undercover officers made about 50 drug purchases after calling the number, which was often answered by operators who referred to themselves as “Sean.”

The following are facing federal drug conspiracy charges in connection with the operation:

  • Thomas Cleveland, 27, of Chicago;
  • Frederick Giles, 26, of Chicago;
  • Amelia Smith, 30, of Country Club Hills;
  • Michael Robinson, 24, of Country Club Hills;
  • Willie Blair, 32, of Chicago;
  • Lawrence Clark, 26, of Chicago;
  • Cardell Coleman, 21, of Chicago;
  • Jolisa Gaines, 29, of Chicago;
  • D’Angelo Giles, 21, of Chicago;
  • Tyrell Kelly, 27, of Chicago;
  • Keith Manning, 27, of Bellwood;
  • Devonte Smith, 26, of Chicago;
  • Kajuan Smith, 30, of Chicago; and
  • Desmond White, 25, of Chicago.

Cleveland, Robinson, Frederick Giles and Amelia Smith are accused of acting as operators, while the rest of the suspects are accused of distributing the drugs, prosecutors said.

Two people accused of being regular customers of the operation, 54-year-old Anna T. Chose of Morris and 56-year-old Roxanne E. Conn of Wilmington, are also charged with drug conspiracy in a separate federal case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. They allegedly purchased “distribution quantities” of drugs from the organization three separate times in 2018.

Clark and three other people – 33-year-old Michael Pitts of Bellwood, 27-year-old Tevin Ford of Chicago and 26-year-old Jhamaal Haney of Chicago – are also charged with drug conspiracy in a third federal case, officials said. They allegedly distributed 94.8 grams of fentanyl-laced heroin to an undercover officer between August 2017 and March 2018.

Pitts also sold a total of 386.5 grams of fentanyl-laced heroin to undercover officers between August 2017 and May 2018, prosecutors said. He is also accused of leaving one of his customers at a Chicago bus stop in May 2018 after the person fell unconscious while suffering what turned out to be a fatal overdose.

Prosecutors said three other federal defendants – 35-year-old Justin Bansiak of Chicago, 31-year-old Jaclyn Rowley of Michigan City, Indiana, and 32-year-old Matthew Rosolik of Trail Creek, Indiana – have been charged in connection with the investigation, in addition to 13 people facing state charges.

The charges against all of the defendants carry maximum sentences between 20 years and life in prison, prosecutors said.

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