Sixteen alleged members of a street gang that operates in Aurora, Elgin and Chicago were charged Wednesday with a criminal conspiracy spanning 11 years that allegedly committed several murders, attempted murders and drug sales.
A 200-officer task force led by agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with state and local law enforcement, arrested seven of the men early Wednesday, including Bolivar Benabe, 40, of the 4000 block of North Sacramento Avenue. Prosecutors say he is the gang's highest ranking member outside of prison.
Seven of the defendants were already in custody, and two others -- Juan Juarez, of Sandwich, and Miguel Martinez, whose last known address was in Aurora, are still at large. Their pictures were released Wednesday by officials at a news conference.
Andy Anderson, assistant special agent-in-charge of the ATF field division, said the joint investigation with Aurora police proved to gangs that moved their operations to the suburbs in search of more relaxed law enforcement that "we'll take this fight against gangs to them."
Aurora Police Chief William J. Lawler agreed that Wednesday's arrests of the alleged Insane Deuces gang members were "a significant blow to the [gang's] organization."
"Clearly there are always going to be people out there who want to step up," he said. "The warning today is that if you do that, there's going to be someone waiting for you."
The indictment details a gang structure headed by a senior member known as the "Prince" who set up gang policies and approved major actions taken by lower ranking members known as "juniors" and "shorties."
The juniors, allegedly overseen by Benabe, were the leaders of the Aurora gang faction and ordered the shorties, many of whom were juveniles, to carry out the gang's agendas. Those actions allegedly included shooting rival gang members, stealing cars and trafficking drugs and weapons.
Missions were assigned in regular meetings known as "juntas," and the Deuces maintained a cache of money used to bail out gang members, send money to members in prison and buy weapons and narcotics, prosecutors said.
All 16 defendants have been charged with racketeering, and 12 of the defendants have been charged with participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy. The indictment contains numerous other charges against individual members, including assault with a dangerous weapon, murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
The indictment is seeking forfeiture of 24 firearms and $1.25 million allegedly earned by the defendants through the sale of narcotics. Officials said they have already seized 80 firearms during the investigation.
If convicted, all the defendants charged with narcotics conspiracy could face life in prison without parole and a $4 million fine. All but one of the racketeering defendants also could face life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Besides Benabe, the others arrested Wednesday were Mariano Morales, 36, of Carol Stream; Steven Perez, 29, of Oswego; and Arturo Barbosa, 29; Brian Hernandez, 23; Lionel Lechuga, 36; and Romel Handley, 21, all of Aurora.
16 alleged gang members face drug, murder charges
September 28, 2005 (CHICAGO) - Federal prosecutors say several leaders of a violent street gang operating in Chicago, Elgin and Aurora are facing murder and drug charges.
The charges cover crimes over the last decade. The street gangs operated in Chicago, Elgin and Aurora, but all of the violence took place outside the city which is a disturbing trend, according to federal prosecutors.
This is just the latest in a continuous effort by federal and local law enforcement to identify and arrest gang members to severely hobble their criminal enterprises. It's called 'Operation Double Down.' On Wednesday, the feds took down a large portion of a Latino street gang in Aurora accusing it of, among other things, murder, attempted murder, robbery, witness tampering, and drug dealing.
It looks like the hierarchy of a corporation, but this business allegedly dealt in murder and drug running. On Wednesday, the U.S. attorney announced the indictment of 16 members of a gang working in Aurora, Elgin, and Chicago. Two are still at large, seven were already in jail and seven were arrested Wednesday, including the supposed ring leader 40-year-old Bolivar Benabe of Chicago.
"They committed four murders, five attempted murders, and two conspiracies to murder in that time," said Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney.
This gang -- indicted under the federal RICO organized crime laws -- is said to be broken down into seniors, older, higher-ranking members who didn't deal in day-to-day operations, juniors who ran the Aurora faction of the gang, and shorties who carried out the decade long acts of violence. Both men on the lam were juniors 30-year-old Juan Juarez who held the title of regional seat and 25-year-old Miguel Martinez, the lieutenant governor. Aurora police chief William Lawler is thrilled to have them off the streets.
"They caused a lot of violence in the street and hopefully this is another step in reducing that," said Chief William Lawler, Aurora P.D.
Fitzgerald says that although there were four 2002 murder victims identified, one shouldn't assume that those people were necessarily involved with or rivals of the prolific gang.
"There are people murdered here. And I don't want anyone to say because a victim is named in the indictment, we should assume just because the person who killed them was engaged in illegal activity that that carry over to people who are victims," said Fitzgerald.
Those arrested Wednesday will be arraigned by a federal magistrate Thursday afternoon. If convicted, 15 of the 16 indicted Wednesday could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.