10 Four Corner Hustlers charged with drug trafficking
The probe by Homeland Security Investigations and the Chicago Police Department, dubbed “Operation American Hustle,” spanned over a year and relied on wiretaps and undercover buys at West Side drug markets.
Federal prosecutors on Thursday announced drug trafficking charges against 10 members or associates of the Four Corner Hustlers street gang.
The investigation, dubbed “Operation American Hustle,” resulted in the seizure of “multiple kilograms” of heroin, cocaine and 10 firearms, including a MAC-10 submachine gun and an AK-47-style rifle, federal authorities said.
Led by Homeland Security Investigations and the Chicago Police Department, the probe stretched from February 2021 to April 2022 and relied on “undercover and covert operations,” including wiretapping multiple cellphones and buying narcotics at three open-air drug markets in West Garfield Park that were ultimately shut down, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
U.S. Attorney John Lausch said the goal was to “dismantle” an operation that profited from selling “extremely potent drugs that have wreaked havoc in too many of our communities across the country and right here in Chicago.” He noted that some of the heroin that was recovered contained fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid.
A complaint filed Tuesday charged all 10 men with federal drug conspiracy, which carries a possible life sentence. They have all appeared in court and remain in custody, prosecutors said.
They are Nathaniel Evans, 38, of Aurora; Jarelle Jones, 24, of Forest Park; Marquis Jones, 29, of Chicago; Devontay Logan, 27, of Chicago; Joseph Williams, 31, of Chicago; Dornell Williams, 34, of Chicago; Teremius Webb, 25, of Chicago; Antonio Fletcher, 40, of Chicago; Kyle Linton, 25, of Chicago; and Maurice Bell, 40, of Chicago.
In addition, Lausch said 21 other people were hit with state drug charges in Cook County court.
The complaint describes Evans as the ringleader of an operation that ran three drug markets in the 3900 blocks of West Jackson Boulevard and West Van Buren Street and the 4000 block of West Maypole Avenue. The Van Buren spot was opened last November, long after the investigation began.
Law enforcement officials seized cocaine and fentanyl-laced heroin and made numerous undercover purchases at the drug spots, where narcotics were typically sold in small baggies costing $10, according to the complaint.
Because much of the business was coordinated using cellphones, the complaint notes, investigators wiretapped phones belonging to six of the men involved in the sprawling drug operation, including Evans. They were used to discuss “staffing, narcotics supply, the collection of narcotics proceeds, and efforts to avoid law enforcement,” according to the complaint.
Then on March 25, it states, officials searched a “stash house” in the 3600 block of West Chicago Avenue and found more than $58,000 in cash, more than four kilograms of both heroin and cocaine, two handguns, the AK-47-style rifle and the MAC-10, which was equipped with a silencer. Over the course of the investigation, authorities recovered three more rifles, two more handguns and a shotgun, prosecutors said.
But the search also uncovered 17 cellphones, including the one Evans was caught using on a wiretap a few months earlier.
Evans, who is nicknamed “Head” and “Bro,” was most recently arrested in the 3800 block of West Jackson Boulevard with 540 baggies of heroin, according to Cook County court records. The charges were dropped five days later.
Before that, the felon was convicted of drug and gun charges and multiple counts of battery, according to Cook County records.
As part of his drug operation, Jarelle Jones, Marquis Jones, Joseph Williams and Dornell Williams worked as “shift managers,” according to the complaint.
Logan allegedly got the drugs from suppliers, took them to the market on Jackson and collected cash from the sales. Bell similarly obtained drugs for the operation on Maypole, while Webb, Fletcher and Linton were street dealers, prosecutors said.
CPD First Deputy Supt. Eric Carter said officers and agents collaborated “to tackle a national problem: drugs, gangs and guns driving violence.”
“Families and residents of all ages, from schoolchildren to senior citizens, were impacted and intimidated on a daily basis,” Carter said. “Thirty-one individuals have been taken off the streets of Chicago in connection with this effort. ... We know this work is only a piece of the puzzle in building a safer city, but every piece is essential when it comes to our future.”
Not displaying properly? Click the complaint.