Food-truck gun deal leads to Chicago drug case and witness threats, feds say
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Sandwiches weren’t the only things being sold out of Chicago’s Finest Deli on Wheels, the feds say.
In 2015, an undercover federal agent bought 24 stolen guns stashed in the food truck, according to prosecutors.
The deal was the beginning of a three-year investigation that resulted in drug-conspiracy charges against three men in October.
Last month, one of them, Terry Ferguson, 54, of Willowbrook, also was charged with intimidating a witness. Ferguson served prison time for a 1995 drug conviction, records show.
Ferguson and accomplices Jesus Dominguez and William Walsh sold cocaine to an undercover agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and to an ATF informant in 18 deals, prosecutors say. Ferguson allegedly traded cocaine for bootleg Newport cigarettes, North Face jackets and backpacks, highlighting the complex barter system often used in drug deals.
The case began in November 2015 when an informant told ATF that Dominguez was trying to sell 50 guns. An undercover ATF agent met Ferguson and Dominguez and bought 24 guns kept in the food truck, prosecutors say. Ferguson was a manager of Chicago’s Finest Deli on Wheels and his son, Timothy Ferguson, was an owner, records show.
The agent secretly recorded the deal. Later, ATF learned the guns were reported stolen from a Chicago-area home.
In May 2016, the ATF agent offered to buy cocaine from Dominguez in exchange for cartons of cigarettes with out-of-state tax stamps, prosecutors say. Dominguez allegedly arranged two deals and Ferguson provided the drugs.
Later that month, Chicago police arrested Dominguez on an unrelated drug charge and he was sentenced to three years in state prison. He’s now in federal custody.
After Dominguez’s arrest, the ATF agent did three more deals with Ferguson, prosecutors say. Walsh delivered cocaine to the agent in the last deal in December 2016, authorities say. He’s free on bond, records show.
In 2018, Ferguson sold cocaine to an ATF informant another 13 times, prosecutors say. The government paid the informant $30,000 for his efforts.
On Nov. 1, just after Ferguson was charged with drug conspiracy, his former business partner got a federal subpoena to testify before a grand jury. The following day, agents searched a Hickory Hills storage unit that Ferguson was renting and seized ammunition, drugs and more than $100,000 in suspected stolen goods, prosecutors say.
Ferguson was let out on bond Nov. 7. The same day, surveillance video shows his son Timothy and John Deir visited Ferguson’s ex-partner at his office located in the same Hickory Hills warehouse where Ferguson’s rental unit was raided.
Ferguson’s son allegedly warned the former business partner that he could “get in trouble for tax evasion” if he appeared before a grand jury or talked to law-enforcement officials.
Terry Ferguson also visited his former partner and said, “Stop talking to those guys — don’t talk to no one” and to “lawyer up,”” prosecutors say.
In court papers, Terry Ferguson’s lawyer Beau Brindley says his client was simply giving advice, not threatening violence. “This is the same advice that any criminal defense attorney might give an individual presented with a subpoena,” Brindley wrote.
Timothy Ferguson and Deir were also charged with intimidating a witness.
Timothy Ferguson is free on bond pending trial, but his father and Deir remain behind bars with judges saying they pose dangers to the community.
The ATF declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.
In U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert’s Dec. 20 ruling denying bond for Deir, the judge noted that Deir’s wife kept nine of his guns in their house even though Deir is a felon who isn’t supposed to have firearms.
Deir’s attorney Steve Greenberg called the charge against him “government intimidation.”
“They have taken people who were lawfully looking out for each other and criminalized it,” Greenberg said of the intimidation case.