U.S. CHARGES 34 ALLEGED STREET GANG MEMBERS, ASSOCIATES AND
DRUG SUPPLIERS IN WEST SIDE RETAIL DRUG DISTRIBUTION CONSPIRACY
Sweep snares alleged leaders of Four Corner Hustlers and New Breeds street gangs
CHICAGO – A few weeks ago, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed today, Ray Longstreet, allegedly the leader of the Four Corner Hustlers street gang on the city’s west side, had a telephone conversation with Antonio Johnson, allegedly a ranking member of the New Breeds street gang, in which they shared similar concerns about their alleged heroin-dealing businesses. They discussed the possibility of being recorded; of being caught and the giving up of other people; the Chicago Police Department’s blue light cameras and how they work; and the severity of getting caught with a “thang” (gun) and being prosecuted federally. Johnson ended this conversation on May 2, saying to Longstreet “... we always targets, no matter what.” In a previous conversation in mid-April, Longstreet and Johnson had allegedly commiserated that they used to make more money selling drugs; how hard it is now to make money selling drugs due to overhead and workers who come up with money or “work” (drug proceeds or drugs) missing; and how they are stressed out.
The concerns that Longstreet and Johnson expressed became reality early today when hundreds of federal agents and Chicago police arrested them and began executing 12 federal search warrants and arresting up to 32 additional alleged members and associates of the Four Corner Hustlers and other streets gangs and individuals who supplied them with narcotics. Altogether, 34 defendants, including Longstreet and Johnson, were arrested or being sought on federal charges of participating in a retail narcotics distribution conspiracy that peddled powder and crack cocaine, heroin and marijuana in “open air drug markets” on the city’s west side.
By late this morning, at least 28 of the 34 defendants, including Longstreet, 40, of Forest Park, and Johnson, 38, of Bloomingdale, Ill., and Atlanta, Ga., were in custody. Officers and agents today also seized crack cocaine totaling more than one kilogram from various locations, an undetermined amount of heroin, $50,000 from Johnson’s Atlanta residence and an undetermined amount of cash from other locations, six guns, and 19 vehicles including a 2004 Hummer and a 2005 Mercedes Benz.
Before today, approximately 33 kilograms of cocaine, 750 grams of crack, 400 grams of heroin and $27,500 were seized during the last two months of the investigation, code-named Operation Street Sweeper. The probe, which began less than a year ago, is part of a sustained, coordinated effort by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to dismantle the leadership of Chicago’s highly-organized, and often-violent, drug-trafficking street gangs. The investigation employedwiretaps, cooperating witnesses including former high-ranking gang members, undercover surveillance and drug transactions, and a steady progression of searches and seizures of evidence.
The criminal complaint filed yesterday and unsealed today alleges that the Four Corner Hustlers have been linked historically to the distribution of large amounts of cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin in the Chicago area. Gang members control numerous drug “spots,” that is, street corners or buildings where narcotics are sold, and many of the defendants allegedly operated and worked at drug spots in a 36-block area controlled by Longstreet on the west side, bordered by Pulaski on the west, Ridgeway on the east, Chicago Avenue on the south and Division Avenue on the north. “This is a lucrative drug distribution territory due to the heavy traffic of drug customers,” states a 126-page affidavit by a Chicago police officer assigned to a Drug Enforcement Administration task force.
The charges allege that the drug spots within Longstreet’s area together sell drugs totaling as much as $50,000 per day. The sales consisted primarily of “dime bags,” that is, small plastic bags or tinfoil wrappers that contained approximately 0.1 gram of drugs each and sold for $10 per unit. The dime bags were packaged from larger quantities of drugs obtained by the drug spot operators, according to the complaint.
Violence is an integral part of maintaining the gang’s drug trafficking territory, the complaint alleges. During the last three months, investigators intercepted calls discussing two separate shooting incidents that took place in territory controlled by Longstreet. Intercepted calls revealed the importance Longstreet placed on maintaining a cache of guns for protecting and arming Four Corner Hustler members with firearms in areas where drug sales were taking place to safeguard against the drug spot workers being robbed. The calls also captured Longstreet allegedly using one of his closest associates, Anthony Sutton, 34, of Oak Park, to supply him with guns.
Many of the drug spots identified in the complaint are in the 11th (Harrison), 15th (Austin) and 25th (Grand Central) Chicago police districts, two of which – the 11th and 15th – were the first designated districts for Project Safe Neighborhoods, a cooperative law enforcement initiative that authorities believe has contributed to a recent reduction in gun violence in those communities.
“Today we returned to the city’s west side and removed as many as 34 individuals who have not gotten the message from previous federal sweeps – if you engage in the street gang-controlled retail distribution of narcotics and use firearms, you make yourself eligible – and wanted – for federal prosecution that will enable you to leave home and live far away for many years – in prison,” said Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
“This case is significant because we have not removed just one top gang leader, but also a second ranking member of a different gang and exposed the extent to which they cooperated and worked together. Cases like this are possible only because of the teamwork and sharing that exists among our partners – especially the Chicago Police, the Cook County State’s Attorney, the IRS, the DEA, and other federal agencies,” Mr. Fitzgerald added.
The U.S. Attorney announced the charges together with Byram Tichenor, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago; Richard W. Sanders, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration; Philip J. Cline, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department; Richard A. Devine, Cook County State’s Attorney; and Thomas Donahue, Executive Director of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). The investigation was conducted under the umbrella of HIDTA and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. The investigation is continuing they said.
According to the complaint affidavit, the Four Corner Hustlers is a faction of the Vice Lord Nation, an association of street gangs that control drug-trafficking and engage in related criminal activity in parts of Chicago, nearby suburbs, elsewhere in Illinois, and in approximately 27 other states. During the 1990s, the Vice Lords Nation grew to more than 30,000 members. The Four Corner Hustlers gang is primarily located on Chicago’s west side with pockets of membership on the south side, and in some western and southern suburbs. Each group of the Four Corner Hustlers is controlled by a “chief,” and Longstreet is the recognized leader of the gang on the west side.
The New Breeds street gang originated in the late 1980s and early 1990s, initially as a splinter group from the Black Gangsters (one of the three factions of the original Black Gangster Disciples, the other two being the Gangster Disciples and the Black Disciples). The New Breeds ultimately absorbed the Black Gangsters back into the gang, operating under the new name, “New Breeds.” The New Breeds are primarily located on the west side of Chicago, and their main source of income is the sale of crack cocaine and white heroin, according to the complaint.
Regarding Longstreet, the complaint alleges that he has status and power that allows him to control drug territory on the west side. Other drug dealers fear him and, thus, do not operate drug spots in his territory without his permission. Longstreet allegedly personally oversees drug spots in his area – at Division and Keeler and, most recently, at Hamlin and Iowa – and supplied heroin to his workers at these spots. Other Four Corner Hustlers sell drugs in Longstreet’s territory, and several gang members worked directly for him. For example, Kenneth Wallace allegedly worked in the day-to-day operations of the Division and Keeler spot. Michael Ervin allegedly acted as security for Longstreet’s spot, providing protection for narcotics and narcotics proceeds.
The complaint further alleges that Anthony Sutton, also a ranking member of the Four Corner Hustlers, operated a spot at Hamlin and Iowa in Longstreet’s territory during the majority of this investigation, and moved his spot just this month to Avers and Iowa, and then to Pulaski and Iowa. Some of the defendants who reported directly to Longstreet, including Wallace and Ervin, also assisted Sutton on his drug spot. Sutton employed other Four Corner Hustler members to assist him, including Aaron Clayton, who was the manager for Sutton’s spot, and Marshall Sutton, who worked for Anthony Sutton on the spot. Other Four Corner Hustlers assisted Anthony Sutton in other ways, including Karl Terry, who assisted him in packaging and preparing narcotics for his operation, and Charles Thornton, who was a partner in his operation. Anthony Sutton also allegedly sold cocaine to a number of wholesale customers (for further distribution to their own customers) who are members of the Four Corner Hustlers, including Ron Allen, Anthony Hardmon, Jonathan Brown and Michael Pinkney, the complaint alleges.
Longstreet also permitted Johnson, who controlled drug spots on Lawndale Street in the vicinity of Thomas Street and who also directs a large, multistate heroin distribution business, to sell drugs in his territory. Johnson, in turn, provided Longstreet with narcotics on credit. Tremaine Grey, also an alleged member of the New Breeds, acted as Johnson’s right hand man, running his west side operation and was the point person providing Johnson’s narcotics to Longstreet, according to the affidavit.
All 34 defendants were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute powder and crack cocaine, heroin and marijuana beginning no later than 2004 to the present. Those in custody were scheduled to have their initial court appearance at 10 a.m. tomorrow before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Mason in U.S. District Court. A list of the defendants and their alleged roles in the conspiracy follows: Conspiracy Leaders:
Ray Longstreet, 40, of Forest Park, also known as “Ray Ray” and “Strawberry”
Antonio Johnson, 38, of Bloomingdale and Atlanta, aka “Psycho” and “Scho”
Anthony Sutton, 34, of Oak Park, aka “Antamaine” and “Ant” Ray Longstreet’s Drug Workers:
Michael Ervin,37, of Chicago, aka “Icey” and “Brown Eyes”
Kenneth Wallace, 25, of Chicago, aka “Twin” and “Scarface”
Temeka Jackson, 36, of Chicago, affiliated with the Four Corner Hustlers and manages Longstreet’s drug spot at Division and Keeler;
Ray Longstreet’s Drug Suppliers:
Sadie Willis, 30, of Chicago, assists Longstreet in obtaining heroin from wholesale suppliers;
Abosede Anibaba, 44, of Chicago, aka “Nikki,” supplies heroin to Longstreet;
Paul Patterson, 55, of Chicago, aka “Gangster Paul,” a member of the Black Souls street gang who supplies heroin and guns to Longstreet;
Antonio Johnson’s Drug Workers:
Tremaine Gray, 24, of Chicago, aka “Jamo,” a member of the New Breeds who is in charge of Johnson’s west side narcotics operation;
Mark Byndom, 33, of Chicago, a member of the New Breeds who works in Johnson’s west side narcotics operation for Gray packaging narcotics;
Anthony Sutton’s Drug Partners and Workers:
Karl Terry, 30, of Chicago, aka “Bootsy,” a member of the Four Corner Hustlers who works with Sutton in the preparation of drugs for street sales and purchases cocaine from Sutton;
Charles Thornton, 35, of Chicago, aka “Lil Charles,” a ranking member of the Four Corner Hustlers who works with Sutton in the distribution of narcotics and purchases cocaine from Sutton;
Johnny McBee, 28, of Joliet, a member of the Four Corner Hustlers who is a partner in Sutton’s narcotics business and purchases cocaine from Sutton;
Aaron Clayton, 34, of Chicago, aka “E,” a member of the Four Corner Hustlers who manages Sutton’s drug spot at Hamlin and Iowa;
Marshall Sutton, 34, of Chicago, aka “Chubb,” a member of the Four Corner Hustlers who works for Anthony Sutton on his drug spot at Hamlin and Iowa;
Mattie Yelvington, 54, of Chicago, who works for Anthony Sutton on the drug spot at Hamlin and Iowa;
Anthony Sutton’s Adjacent Drug-Spot Operator:
Andre Kincaid, 30, of Chicago, aka “Studio,” a member of the Four Corner Hustlers who operates a drug spot in Longstreet’s territory near Harding and Iowa, and appears to purchase cocaine from Anthony Sutton;
Anthony Sutton’s Drug Suppliers:
Anselmo Zepeda, 50, of Melrose Park, aka “Old Man” and “Sam,” who supplies kilogram quantities of cocaine to Anthony Sutton;
Gumercindo Orozco, 43, of Bloomingdale, aka “Jess” and “Cousin,” who supplies kilogram quantities of cocaine to Anthony Sutton and works with Zsepeda;
Edgardo Barrera, 35, of Chicago, who supplies kilogram quantities of cocaine to Anthony Sutton;
Joseph Hickey, 37, of Chicago, a member of the Two Sixers street gang who works with Barrera in supplying kilogram quantities of cocaine to Anthony Sutton;
Alfredo Manzanares, 29, of Chicago, aka “Shorty,” who supplies cocaine to Anthony Sutton;
Anthony Sutton’s Wholesale Drug Customers:
Jacques Rice, 27, of Chicago, who purchases cocaine from Anthony Sutton for redistribution and also supplies heroin to him;
Ron Allen, 35, of Bolingbrook, aka “Ronnie” and “Little Ron,” a member of the Four Corner Hustlers who purchases cocaine from Anthony Sutton for redistribution;
Anthony Hardmon, 33, of Chicago, aka “Mouse,” a ranking member of the Four Corner Hustlers who purchases cocaine from Anthony Sutton for redistribution;
Jonathan Brown, 29, of Chicago, a member of the Four Corner Hustlers who purchases cocaine and marijuana from Anthony Sutton for redistribution;
Michael Pinkney, 29, of Dolton, aka “Lil Mike,” a member of the Four Corner Hustlers who assists Anthony Sutton in the purchase of vehicles Sutton uses to transport drugs and drug proceeds, and also purchases cocaine from him for redistribution;
Willie Smith, 54, of Chicago, who purchases cocaine from Anthony Sutton for
Jywanzo Loyd, 27, of Milwaukee, who purchases crack cocaine from Anthony
Sutton for distribution in the Milwaukee area. Loyd and/or an associate of his drives
to the Chicago area to deliver money and pick up drugs from Anthony Sutton;
Shamon Griffin, 43, of Milwaukee, who works for Loyd as a courier, traveling from
Milwaukee to Chicago to transport money from Loyd to Anthony Sutton and pick up
crack cocaine from Sutton to deliver to Loyd;
Bryant Newell, 36, of Chicago, who purchases cocaine from Anthony Sutton for
Marlow Watts, 31, of Forest Park, a member of the Vice Lords street gang who
purchases cocaine from Anthony Sutton for redistribution; and
Steven Rucker, 33, of Maywood, a member of the Vice Lords street gang.
If convicted, each defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment without parole and a maximum fine of $4 million. Note, however, that the Court would determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed.
The government is being represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Christina Egan and Brandon Spurlock, and Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Sharon Opryszek, who is designated as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney.
The public is reminded that a complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.