Cops pounce on West Side drug ring

Chicago Sun-Times,  May 10, 2006  by Eric Herman

Police and federal agents on Tuesday nabbed 43 alleged drug dealers out of 67 indicted by prosecutors in a massive law enforcement operation aimed at wiping out a West Side narcotics ring.

The alleged dealers belong to the New Breeds street gang, a faction of the Black Gangster Disciples, prosecutors said. For at least two years, they did a brisk business selling crack cocaine, heroin and marijuana in an eight-building complex known as "The Square," located between 18th and 19th Streets and Keeler and Karlov Avenues.

Many residents of The Square receive Section 8 federal housing subsidies, though the complex is privately-owned. For the past two years, according to prosecutors, The Square was effectively controlled by the Covens family, who ran the drug supermarket and collected a "tax" from dealers. The family members involved in the ring included Terrell Covens, 23, his brother Trevel Covens, 20, and their cousin Lavell Covens, 21.

A fourth man, Ronald Turner, ran the drug operation along with the Covenses, prosecutors said.

Terrell Covens was described by authorities as president of his own recording label, and Trevel as an aspiring rap singer. Trevel Covens' rap group calls itself "The Brick Boys," based on their nickname for the Square, "The Bricks." According to prosecutors, their drug business generated more than $15,000 in sales per day, and up to $5 million a year.

A third brother, Terrence Covens, and their uncle, Tylon Covens, worked in the drug ring but both were shot to death last year, according to the indictment.

Two of the Covenses, Terrell and Trevel, were among those arrested Tuesday. The defendants are scheduled to appear today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Mason.

"It's no secret that the new organized crime in Chicago is the street gangs," said Chicago police superintendent Phil Cline. "We're making gangs in this city a top priority."


The indictments resulted from a two-year investigation conducted jointly by Chicago Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During the probe -- dubbed "Operation Impunity" -- police officers posed as "dirty cops" and made drug buys. Before Tuesday, authorities had bought or seized more than 1,000 grams of crack cocaine, 2,200 grams of powder cocaine, 250 grams of heroin, $4,000 in cash and 20 firearms.

On Tuesday officers seized more than a kilogram of heroin, two kilograms of cocaine, seven guns, thousands of dollars in cash, a bulletproof vest and four cars.

About 700 police officers and federal agents, including out-of- town SWAT teams from cities including Milwaukee and Detroit, took part in Tuesday's arrests, officials said.

"We have good days and bad days. Today was a good day for law enforcement," said Robert Grant, special agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago office.

"They ran a 24-7 operation dealing drugs there," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. But now, he said, "The Square has been taken back. A number of arrests have been made, and once again it is a housing complex."