Three men have been arrested and face federal drug charges after agents seized more than 200 pounds of cocaine on Chicago’s Near North Side, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois.
The federal agents allege the drugs had been transported from Mexico to the Midwest in a private plane, which agents Monday obtained a warrant to seize.
Sebastian Vazquez-Gamez of Toluca de Lerdo, Mexico, and Rodrigo Alexis Jimenez-Perez of Columbus, Indiana were arrested in Chicago last Wednesday, while Sergio Ivan Blas was apprehended in the Indianapolis area Thursday.
According to a federal complaint, agents saw the private plane, a Bombardier CL-600, land at Gary/Chicago International Airport in Indiana Nov. 3. As first reported by the crime blog CWB Chicago, the agents watched as Vazquez-Gamez and others helped an airport employee unload suitcases from the plane. The suitcases appeared to be “significantly weighed down,” the complaint contends.
Agents tailed Vazquez-Gamez as he left the airport with the suitcases in a Lincoln Navigator driven by another person traveling toward downtown Chicago. Vazquez-Gamez and two other people then checked into a hotel in the 100 block of East Chestnut Street in the Gold Coast.
Later that evening, officials saw Vazquez-Gamez and another person loading the suitcases into a white Toyota Highlander driven by Jimenez-Perez. Shortly before 9:30 p.m., agents stopped the vehicle in the 500 block of North Rush Street in the Near North neighborhood. They found the suitcases and, upon inspection, saw they were filled with about 80 brick-shaped packages “appearing consistent with kilogram bricks of controlled substances.”
Agents detained Vazquez-Gamez and took him back to his hotel room, where officials found another 20 brick-shaped packages in his luggage. Agents performed a field test on the substance inside, which came back as “presumptive positive” for cocaine, the complaint alleges.
After arresting Jimenez-Perez, agents discovered Facebook Messenger communications between himself and Blas, which authorities say indicates the second man directed Jimenez-Perez to travel to receive the cocaine. After Blas was arrested in Indianapolis, agents found in his car about $6,000 in cash and a handwritten ledger they say appears to record the receipt and distribution of large sums of money.
Jimenez-Perez and Vazquez-Gamez are expected to appear in court this week in Chicago, while Blas will appear in Indiana.