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42 People Face State, Federal Drug Charges In West Side Heroin Bust

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Jun 24, 2015 9:20PM

Chicago Police Department handout
The Chicago Police Department dealt a massive blow to the West Side's so-called open-air drug market this week.

Police have busted at least 42 people on the West Side with a cache of drugs and firearms, and seized one man's Maserati. They are facing state or federal drug charges for participating in the apparently massive drug ring, which CPD officers spent nearly a year investigating.

Chicago police, DEA agents and other law enforcers executed seven search warrants on homes and alleged "stash houses," seizing two vehicles including one man's 2014 Maserati Gran Turismo, 12 firearms, $50,000 in cash, nearly a half-kilogram of heroin and more than a half-kilogram cocaine. Of the 42 people charged, 32 were arrested early Wednesday while the others are either in custody or still at-large, according to authorities.

At least 14 of the people arrested are facing federal conspiracy or narcotics distribution charges in five criminal complaints, while 26 defendants are facing state drug distribution charges.

A 230-page affidavit says investigators found that James "Trell" Triplett, 33, of Berkley controlled the sale of heroin around the 2700 block of W. Grenshaw St. in North Lawndale, meaning he assigned specific individuals to delegate the sale of heroin throughout the area. The area has been described by some, including police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, as "an open-air drug market."

The investigation "represents a significant hammer-blow to the open-air drug markets operating in North Lawndale and Douglas Park,” McCarthy said in a statement. “Operations of this nature exemplify our ceaseless commitment to eliminating guns, gangs, and drugs on our city’s streets."

The investigation also alleges that Triplett got his heroin from LeVaughn "Sweet Bobby" Collins, 34, of Chicago, who took wholesale heroin and prepared it for buyers like Triplett who sold it on the streets, according to investigators.

Triplett's "drug trafficking organization," as it was described by authorities, allegedly employed Marcetteaus "Antonio" "Keitho" McGee, 31, Christopher "Gov" Tidwell, 42, James "J Dub" Smith, 35, and Chiquita Jackson, 29, all of Chicago to manage the Grenshaw drug spot, move heroin between the stash and sale locations and bring profits back to Triplett. Jackie Tyler, 29, of Chicago, was named as one of the street-level sellers.

Authorities allege that LeVaughn Collins kept his main heroin stash house at 561 E. 103rd Pl. and 2936 W. Warren Blvd. He allegedly employed such people as Larry "Scooter" Collins, 38, Jimmy "Dirt" Bell, 38, Kevin "Bo" Gardner, 35, all of Chicago, and Lamel "Slim" Burns, 38, of Dolton to dilute the heroin and package it in small, "user-sized" bags. The packages featured such logo stamps as orange basketballs, purple women, green Playboy bunnies, Hershey's kisses and black panda bears, authorities said.

Chicago Police Department handout

Each of those people are facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment and a $10 million fine. Angeles Avalos, 32, of Chicago, was also accused of being Collins' heroin supplier. Thirty other men and women are facing related charges, authorities said, for their roles in buying or selling heroin in the local drug market and for other offenses.

All those arrested Wednesday were scheduled to be arraigned in court this afternoon.