Thirteen defendants charged in federal drug trafficking probe targeting fentanyl-laced heroin and cocaine sales in Chicago


Date: June 29, 2023


A federal drug trafficking investigation has resulted in charges against 13 individuals for allegedly trafficking fentanyl-laced heroin and cocaine on the West Side of Chicago.

The multi-year investigation, led by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Chicago Police Department utilized covert surveillance operations, undercover narcotics purchases, and wiretapped communications to shut down an open-air drug market in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. Many of the defendants, including the group's suspected leader, are allegedly members of the Traveling Vice Lords street gang. In addition to federal drug charges, three of the defendants are charged with possessing firearms in furtherance of their drug trafficking activities. One of the defendants was recently arrested while illegally possessing a loaded handgun on the Chicago Transit Authority's Green Line train.

Law enforcement on Wednesday executed court-authorized searches of multiple locations in Chicago and the suburbs. Law enforcement seized approximately ten firearms, two 50-round drum ammunition magazines, several extended ammunition magazines, more than a kilogram of cocaine, more than 250 grams of heroin containing fentanyl, and approximately nine vehicles that allegedly were used in furtherance of narcotics trafficking.

Charged with federal drug conspiracy are Terrance Sanders, of Aurora, Ill., Shavelle Sims, of Glendale Heights, Ill., Tyron Paulk, of Bellwood, Ill., Samuel Lopez, of Chicago, Demecco Tartt, of Chicago, Tarance Banks, of Calumet City, Ill., Deandre Maddox, of Chicago, Delawrence Ison, of Chicago, Lavell Griffin, of Chicago, Brian Williams, of Chicago, and Raheem Smith, of Bolingbrook, Ill. Sanders, Paulk, and Smith are also each charged with possessing a firearm in furtherance of the drug trafficking conspiracy.

Charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver are Partganan Burch, of Chicago, and Demorris Hill, of South Holland, Ill.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday in federal court, Sanders led a drug trafficking organization that operated the open-air market in the 3400 block of West Chicago Avenue in Chicago. Sanders and others utilized a "stash house" in the 1600 block of North Karlov Avenue in Chicago to store narcotics and prepare them for delivery to the open-air market, where they were then sold to customers, the complaint states. Sims supervised the collection of narcotics proceeds and met with Sanders to re-supply the drug spot as needed, the complaint states.

Most of the 13 federal defendants were arrested Wednesday and have begun making initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Chicago. In addition to the federal charges, 19 other individuals were charged in state court as a result of this investigation.

The federal charges were announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Justin Campbell, Special Agent-in-Charge of IRS-CI in Chicago; Sean Fitzgerald, Special Agent-in-Charge of HSI in Chicago; and Fred Waller, Interim Superintendent of CPD. Valuable assistance was provided by the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program (HIDTA). Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick Mott and Chester Choi represent the government.

The case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug trafficking organizations and other criminal networks that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local enforcement agencies.

The public is reminded that a complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.