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Afternoon Edition: April 30, 2021

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

Seok Pheng Lim sent this photo to her Chinese counterpart in Mexico that $340,000 in cash was successfully delivered from a cartel courier to her money-laundering associate in New York in 2017.
| U.S. District Court trial exhibit

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be sunny with a high near 54 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 45 degrees. This weekend will feel like summer: Tomorrow will be sunny and windy with a high near 82 degrees and Sunday’s high will be near 80 degrees.

Top story

Chinese money laundering rings in Chicago, New York cleaning Mexican drug cartel cash

A Chinese money launderer was about to pick up Mexican drug cartel cash in Chicago, federal authorities say, when his plans suddenly changed.

They say the suspected launderer got a call from a man he thought was a Mexican money courier who told him they needed to change their meeting place because he’d spotted a cop.

“You Asian, I’m Mexican — not a good look,” the courier said in the 2017 phone call, court records show.

So they picked a different address to meet. They described their cars to each other. And when they met on the Southwest Side, they had a way to identify each other, authorities say: The money-launderer handed the courier a $1 bill. The men had agreed earlier that the serial number on the bill — G5915410C — would confirm the Chinese man’s identity. Authorities say that’s common in the world of drug trafficking.

They say the courier then turned over a Menards shopping bag stuffed with nearly $200,000 in cash to Huazhi Han, who later was charged with money laundering.

But the courier was no courier. He was an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

DEA agents arrested Han and say they found a gun in his van.

They also searched the Riverside home where he was living and seized about $1.2 million they found hidden in the ceiling there, according to court documents.

Han’s now awaiting trial on money laundering charges in Chicago.

Keep reading this story from Frank Main and Jon Seidel.

More news you need

  1. The first of two alleged shooters who opened fire on a car at a West Side McDonald’s drive-thru — killing 7-year-old Jaslyn Adams — was ordered held without bail today. Demond Goudy, 20, is facing murder and attempted murder charges for the April 18 shooting.
  2. A former Catholic school teacher in the southwest suburbs has been charged after a video surfaced showing him “engaged in inappropriate communication with a minor.” Jeremy M. Hylka was charged with traveling to meet a child and grooming, according to Joliet police. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
  3. Almost a third of all Illinois residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — but the number of people signing up for shots each day has dipped by almost a third over the past three weeks. The latest challenge in the pandemic — falling vaccine demand — is one the governor’s health team anticipated, and now must focus on to bring the state closer to herd immunity.
  4. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is putting pressure on ComEd to negotiate with her on a new utility contract by issuing a formal request to any other parties that can provide alternative ideas for delivering electricity to Chicago. The city’s long-term contract with ComEd, a “franchise” agreement that was entered into in 1992, expired at the end of last year.
  5. A short walk from the Morgan L stop is another addition to the flourishing art scene in Chicago’s West Loop: It’s a new, popup gallery, called Artopia: The Immersive Art Experience, that includes murals by street artists and other works spread through a 32,000-square-foot warehouse. Unlike actual street art, you have to pay for admission here.

A bright one

No joke: Watch out for the turtle crossing the road, drivers are warned

If you drive anywhere in the Chicago area near lakes, ponds or marshes, there’s a good chance turtles might be lurking nearby.

And starting around this time of year, they’re more active. So drivers are being warned to be on the lookout for turtles crossing roads in search of food, water, mates or nests.

Crossings of females increase from mid-May to mid-July as they make their way to and from nesting sites.

“Some turtles must travel up to a mile to find the right conditions,” says Dan Thompson, an ecologist with the DuPage County Forest Preserve District.

You know why the turtle wants to cross the road — so watch out, or you’ll run it over.
DuPage County Forest Preserve District

Accidentally running down an adult turtle can have a significant impact, Thompson says, because at least 90% of adults must survive each year to sustain a population.

And unlike some animals that you can scare out of your way, “Car horns and flashing lights will have no effect on turtles,” Thompson says. “They simply can’t move any faster to get out of the way. Drivers need to pay attention and do what they can to avoid hitting these animals.”

Here’s Grace Asiegbu’s story.

From the press box

The Bears moving up in the NFL Draft to take Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields has fans excited. But columnist Rick Morrissey remembers that the team has staked its future on young quarterbacks before with no success.

It’s now up to coach Matt Nagy to change that history by, the Bears hope, following the blueprint Nagy’s mentor Andy Reid used to develop Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Part of that plan means Andy Dalton will be the starting quarterback for the 2021 season.

Bears reporters Lieser, Patrick Finley and Mark Potash discuss what selecting Fields means for the Bears in the latest Halas Intrigue podcast. And Lieser has a preview of the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft.

Outside of Bears news, Vaughn Pemberton became a success story for this year’s strange high school football season. He climbed from fourth-string running back at Loyola in his junior year to become the Sun-Times High School Football Player of the Year as a senior.

Your daily question ☕

How do you feel about the Bears trading up to draft Ohio State QB Justin Fields?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: What would you like to see the Bears do with their first-round pick tonight? Here’s what some of you said…

“Someone who can play football at the professional level.” — Scott Hume

“Not embarrass themselves or their fans. Unfortunately, that’s a pretty tall order.” — Mike Maloney Sr.

“I would love to see Rashod Bateman, to put him together with Robinson and Mooney would be a good group of WRs.” — Matthew Suszek

“Just get the best player available of need. Do not mortgage future draft capital to move up to get one of the five QBs. Draft [Kellen] Mond from Texas A&M in second or third round.” — Scott Gard

“Pick the highest-rated offensive lineman left on the board.” — Jeff Hornstein

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