Marijuana worth $5.2 million seized, six arrested

By on December 11, 2009

Kane County—A five-month multijurisdictional investigation into a multi-million dollar marijuana trafficking ring has resulted in several arrests and the seizure of more than one ton of marijuana with a street value of more than $5 million, according to a release from the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Six Chicago-area men are charged as part of the investigation, which was led by the North Central Narcotics Task Force (NCNTF), a multi-agency unit that investigates drug, firearm and gang offenses in Kane, DeKalb and McHenry counties. The investigation began in July and also included the efforts of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Kelly M. Orland, who heads the office’s Narcotics Prosecution Unit, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the DuPage County Metropolitan Enforcement Group.

The investigation culminated with the Nov. 23, 2009, seizure of 2,300 pounds of marijuana with an approximate street value of $5.2 million, eight vehicles and approximately $480,000 in cash.

Authorities believe the seizure is one of the largest resulting from an investigation into suspects living in Kane County.

All cases will be heard in Kane County Court, in front of Circuit Judge Timothy Q. Sheldon in Courtroom 319 at the Kane County Judicial Center. The cases will be jointly prosecuted by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Each of these men is in custody at the Kane County Jail charged with one count of cannabis trafficking, a Class X felony punishable with a sentence of between 12 and 60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections and up to a $400,000 fine:
• Edwardo Alanis-Garcia, 43 (d.o.b. 10-17-1966), of the 200 block of North Street, Melrose Park. Bail has been set at $5 million. His next court date is Dec. 10, 2009. Case No. 09CF3310.
• Jose Arriaga, 36 (d.o.b. 1-12-1973), of the 9700 block of South Commercial, Chicago. Bail has been set at $10 million. His next court date is Dec. 11, 2009. Case No. 09CF3313.
• Joseph Lichay, 48 (d.o.b. 9-27-1961), of the 113 block of Fleetwood Street, Huntley. Bail has been set at $10 million. His next court date is Dec. 11, 2009. Case No. 09CF3315.
• Fabricio Mendiola, 36 (d.o.b. 12-27-1972), of the 3000 block of South Eves, Chicago. Bail has been set at $5 million. His next court date is Dec. 8, 2009. Case No. 09CF3312.
• Santos Nunez, 48 (d.o.b. 11-6-1961), LKA Calumet Street, Chicago. Bail has been set at $5 million. His next court date is Dec. 9, 2009. Case No. 09CF3316.
• William Santana, 41 (d.o.b. 6-13-1968), of the 800 block of Waverly, Elgin. Bail had been set at $5 million but was reduced Dec. 4, 2004, by Judge Sheldon on a defense motion to a $100,000 cash bond. His next court date is Dec. 11, 2009. Case

Authorities allege that the men were involved in a scheme to bring the marijuana to the Chicago area for distribution. Significant activity that led to the marijuana’s arrival in Illinois occurred in Kane County.

The case remains under investigation.

“I am very proud of the work of Kane County ASA Kelly Orland in these cases, her role in the investigation of these offenses, her work in bringing these charges and her efforts with the other law-enforcement agencies,” Kane County State’s Attorney John Barsanti said. “This may be the largest single seizure of cannabis that the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office has ever been involved with.”

“This case is another example that large scale drug-trafficking operations are occurring in the suburbs and across municipal boundaries. This is not just a big-city problem,” said Master Sgt. Bill Backus, director of the NCNTF. “It is investigations like this one that showcase the benefits of being involved in multiagency units, such as the NCNTF, which allows us to attack the drug problem from a wider perspective with a variety of resources.”

The charges against Alanis-Garcia, Arriaga, Lichay, Mendiola, Nunez and Santana are not proof of guilt. A defendant charged is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.