The U.S. Department of Justice arrested two drug trafficking groups following a multi-year, multi-state investigation for trafficking fentanyl-laced heroin, cocaine, and other drugs in Chicago and surrounding states.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a press release that the investigation resulted in the seizure of $300,500 in suspected illegal cash proceeds, "distribution quantities" of fentanyl-laced heroin, cocaine, and marijuana as well as Bentley and Mercedes-Benz vehicles and a custom-built motorcycle.
Led by the FBI Chicago Field Office, the investigation began in 2022 and relied on "covert surveillance operations," including wiretapping, as well as numerous purchases of controlled narcotics, the U.S. attorney's office said.
The three criminal complaints charge two separate drug trafficking organizations whose member's allegedly supplied or sought to supply drugs to customers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ohio along with Chicago's South Side.
The first complaint charges Ronald Johnson, 57, of Darien; Sulstine Brown Robinson, 69, of Chicago; Charles Lawrence, 48, of Chicago; Darrell Jones, 58, of Chicago; Derek Donley, 29, of Chicago; Kendall Banks, 31, of Chicago; Niger Gray, 25, of Chicago; Jamari McNeal 29, of Chicago; and April Thomas, 60, of Chicago with drug trafficking.
Authorities say that Johnson allegedly gave a woman a duffel bag stuffed with approximately $300,500 in suspected drug proceeds, which authorities later seized in December 2022.
In addition, prosecutors said two other individuals who were involved in the drug trafficking operations were hit with federal drug charges.
Troy Bonaparte, 58, of Chicago, is charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute. Byron Murphy, 39, of Chicago, is charged with distributing fentanyl-laced heroin, according to the complaint.
The second complaint charges Derek Donley, 29; Kendall Banks, 31; Niger Gray, 25; Jamari Mc Neal, 29; and April Thomas, 60, all of Chicago, with federal drug conspiracy.
In January 2023, law enforcement in Wisconsin, stopped Robinson and discovered that she was transporting seven kilograms of cocaine from Chicago. Law enforcement seized the drugs, which were packaged in six individual bricks and wrapped in green cellophane.
A third complaint charges Chantell Toney, 37, of Chicago, with distribution of cocaine on April 6.
According to court documents, Toney allegedly sold crack cocaine on the South Side of Chicago on several occasions in 2022 and 2023. One of the deals allegedly happened as recently as July in an apartment in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood.
Prosecutors said most of the defendants were arrested on Friday, July 28 or earlier this week, and have begun making their initial court appearances.