RETIRED CHICAGO POLICE OFFICER INDICTED IN RICO CONSPIRACY WITH
MEMBERS OF ALLEGED DRUG DISTRIBUTION RING ACCUSED OF ENGAGING
IN MURDERS, KIDNAPPINGS, ROBBERIES AND OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE
CHICAGO — A retired Chicago police officer was arrested by DEA agents after he and three other new defendants were charged together with six previously charged defendants in an expanded federal racketeering (RICO) conspiracy indictment alleging acts of murder, kidnapping, robbery, narcotics distribution and obstruction of justice. A 10-count superseding indictment that was unsealed following three new arrests alleges two murders, six kidnappings and robberies, and three instances of distribution or attempted wholesale distribution of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine among a pattern of criminal activity spanning the decade from 1999 to 2009.
The arrests, which occurred on Friday, and charges were announced today by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Jack Riley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Alvin Patton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The investigation was conducted under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).
Glenn Lewellen, a Chicago police officer from 1986 to 2002, allegedly provided information about ongoing federal criminal investigations into the defendants’ activities to certain members and associates of an alleged criminal organization consisting of eight of the 10 defendants and directed by Saul Rodriguez, known as the “Rodriguez Enterprise,” according to the indictment, which was returned last Thursday by a federal grand jury. Rodriguez and the other five defendants previously charged were arrested in April 2009 when they allegedly conspired to steal hundreds of kilograms of purported cocaine from a warehouse in southwest suburban Channahon.
Lewellen, 54, of Las Vegas, was arrested late Friday in Las Vegas. He was charged with racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Lewellen was not charged with participating in either of the two alleged murders, but he was charged with participating in a 2003 kidnapping and robbery of 100 kilograms of cocaine and cash, as well as other alleged narcotics activities. He was expected to have an initial appearance at 3 p.m. today (Pacific time) in Federal Court in Las Vegas on the charges filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
The charges also allege that Lewellen obstructed justice to protect and conceal the Rodriguez Enterprise’s illegal activities, including testifying falsely in a federal criminal trial in December 1999. In May of this year, promptly after obtaining evidence establishing the alleged false testimony, federal prosecutors disclosed the information and asked for, and obtained, a judge’s order releasing the defendant in that case from prison and vacating his narcotics-related conviction.
Also arrested on Friday in California was Manuel Uriarte, 33, of Watsonville, Calif., near Monterey Bay, who was charged with racketeering conspiracy and two counts of murder in aid of racketeering. He allegedly participated with Rodriguez in both alleged murders: the June 3, 2000, shooting death of Juan Luevano in Cicero, and the May 31, 2001, shooting death of Michael Garcia in Chicago, which were charged for the first time in the new indictment. Uriarte is being held pending his next court appearance at 9 a.m. (Pacific time) Wednesday in Federal Court in San Jose, Calif.
A third defendant arrested on Friday, Walter Johnson, 36, of south suburban Frankfort, an alleged customer of the Rodriguez drug-trafficking organization, was charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute wholesale quantities of cocaine and heroin. He is being held pending a detention hearing at 4:30 p.m. today before Magistrate Judge Susan Cox in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
The fourth new defendant in the case, Fares Umar, 38, of Chicago, is in state custody and will appear at a later date in Federal Court in Chicago. He was charged with racketeering conspiracy and narcotics distribution conspiracy.
The six previous defendants in the case and charges against them in the new indictment are: Saul Rodriguez, 35, of Countryside; racketeering conspiracy, two counts of murder in aid of racketeering, two counts of kidnapping in aid of racketeering, and four counts of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute. He is in federal custody; Hector Uriarte, 31, of Burr Ridge; racketeering conspiracy, two counts of kidnapping in aid of racketeering, three counts of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, and one count of brandishing a firearm. He is in federal custody; Jorge Uriarte, 37, of Oak Forest; racketeering conspiracy, two counts of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, and one count each of kidnapping in aid of racketeering and brandishing a firearm. He is in federal custody. (Manuel, Hector and Jorge Uriarte are brothers);
Andres Flores, 29, of Chicago; racketeering conspiracy, two counts of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, and one count of kidnapping in aid of racketeering. He is in federal custody;
Tony Sparkman, 24, of Chicago; racketeering conspiracy, two counts of kidnapping in aid of racketeering, three counts of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, and one count of brandishing a firearm. He is released on a secured bond; and
Jorge Lopez, 37, of Chicago; two counts of possessing cocaine with intent to
distribute. He is released on a secured bond.
All six of these defendants will be arraigned at a later date before U.S. District Judge Joan Gottschall.
The indictment also seeks forfeiture of more than $9.5 million in alleged illegal proceeds, three vehicles, two handguns, jewelry seized from Johnson valued at more than $425,000, Johnson’s residence in Frankfort and three other properties he owns in Matteson and Chicago, and two properties Rodriguez owns in Yerrington, Nev.
The racketeering conspiracy count alleges that the Rodriguez Enterprise — consisting of defendants Rodriguez, the three Uriarte brothers, Flores, Sparkman, Lewellen, and Umar, along with two other individuals previously convicted of narcotics offenses, Andres Torres and Pedro Victoria and others — existed to enrich its leaders, members and associates through acts of murder, kidnapping, robbery, drug-trafficking and obstruction of justice. In addition to the two murders, the RICO conspiracy count alleges six acts of kidnapping involving 13 unnamed victims between the summer of 2003 and October 2007.
As part of the racketeering conspiracy, these defendants allegedly:
murdered individuals in exchange for money or access to wholesale quantities of narcotics;
identified victims from whom they could obtain wholesale quantities of narcotics or large sums of money by kidnapping them and holding them for ransom or robbing them;
conducted surveillance of the enterprise’s intended murder, kidnapping, and robbery victims;
obtained, used, brandished, and discharged firearms in connection with the enterprise’s illegal activity;
used a vehicle made to appear as if it was an unmarked police car to facilitate the kidnapping and robbery of the enterprise’s victims, and transported victims in vehicles to homes and garages under the enterprise’s control;
held themselves out as police officers when kidnapping and robbing victims;
restrained kidnapping and robbery victims to prevent their escape and identification of the members of the enterprise and their associates;
used threats of violence, violence, and intimidation to cause kidnapping and robbery victims to provide wholesale quantities of narcotics and/or large sums of money to secure their release; and
used threats of violence, violence, and intimidation to cause kidnapping and robbery victims and witnesses not to report the crimes to law enforcement.
The RICO conspiracy count further alleges that the defendants: < purchased wholesale quantities of narcotics that they then distributed to wholesale customers in the Chicago area and elsewhere; < obtained wholesale quantities of narcotics through robberies and kidnappings, threats of violence, violence, and intimidation; < used warehouses in the Chicago area to store narcotics and U.S. currency obtained from their narcotics sales, and shared in the proceeds of the enterprise’s illegal activities; < invested proceeds from their participation in the enterprise’s illegal activities in real estate and businesses to conceal their involvement in and proceeds; and < obtained information about the fact of, and the extent of, federal investigations into the enterprise’s illegal activities, and used that information to evade detection by law enforcement.
The murder in aid of racketeering counts against Rodriguez and Manuel Uriarte carry a maximum penalty of death or mandatory life imprisonment. The narcotics distribution conspiracy count against Rodriguez and eight other defendants, as well as other counts, carry a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $4 million fine. If convicted, the Court must determine a reasonable sentence to impose under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Terra Reynolds and Steven Block.
An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
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