Feds want to seize aircraft that landed at Gary airport amid drug investigation
Law enforcement set up surveillance at the Gary/Chicago International Airport in anticipation of the plane’s arrival there Wednesday. The aircraft is described in court records as a 1987 Bombardier CL-600-2B16 Challenger 601-3A.
Federal authorities seized a private aircraft that flew last week into the Gary/Chicago International Airport amid an investigation that also led to the seizure of 100 kilograms of cocaine and drug charges against three people, records show.
Sebastian Vazquez-Gamez, 30, of Mexico, and Rodrigo Alexis Jimenez-Perez, 25, of Indiana, were each charged Thursday and are being held in custody pending detention hearings, records show. A third man, Sergio Ivan Blas, 39, of Indiana, has also been charged.
Blas was arrested Thursday in the Indianapolis area, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Lea este artículo en español en La Voz Chicago.
The aircraft in question traveled Nov. 2 from Toluca, Mexico, to Houston, Texas, according to an affidavit filed by prosecutors.
Law enforcement then set up surveillance at the Gary airport in anticipation of its arrival there Wednesday. The aircraft is described in court records as a 1987 Bombardier CL-600-2B16 Challenger 601-3A.
The feds say they had previously seen Vazquez-Gamez arrive in Gary from Mexico aboard that aircraft Oct. 19. Though records indicated the plane departed later that same day for Mexico with Vazquez-Gamez on board, the feds say surveillance footage revealed he was still in the Chicago area after its takeoff time.
The aircraft returned to the Gary airport at 6:43 p.m. Wednesday, records show. Afterward, law enforcement saw an airport worker retrieve two black duffel bags — one with a white Puma logo and one with a white Nike logo — from the plane. The employee then retrieved two additional suitcases from the airplane.
While the worker put the luggage on a dolly, law enforcement said they saw three passengers, including Vazquez-Gamez, step off the plane. The passengers then helped the airport worker retrieve additional luggage from the airplane.
The luggage was loaded into a black 2020 Lincoln Navigator, which authorities said they followed until losing sight of it around 7:40 p.m. near North Lake Shore Drive and East Chicago Avenue in Chicago. They then learned its passengers had been dropped off at a hotel in the 100 block of East Chestnut Street.
Authorities later watched as Vazquez-Gamez and Jimenez-Perez loaded two suitcases from the aircraft into a white 2015 Toyota Highlander outside the hotel and drove off with Jimenez-Perez in the driver’s seat.
Jimenez-Perez dropped off Vazquez-Gamez around East Superior Street and North Wabash Avenue, records show. Law enforcement then stopped the Toyota in the 500 block of North Rush Street at 9:23 p.m. Jimenez-Perez allowed authorities to look inside the suitcases, and they said they found about 80 kilograms of what they believed to be cocaine inside.
Jimenez-Perez later allegedly told authorities he hoped the suitcases only contained money and marijuana, but he realized they contained other drugs when he handled them and felt their weight.
Authorities also detained Vazquez-Gamez and said they obtained consent to search his hotel room. There, they said they found 20 kilograms of what they thought was cocaine in a suitcase and duffel bag from the airplane.
A cellphone search following Jimenez-Perez’s arrest also led to the discovery of Facebook Messenger communication between Jimenez-Perez and Blas, records show. The feds allege that Blas directed Jimenez-Perez to receive the 80 kilograms of cocaine, first by going to the Gary airport and then to the hotel.