Drug gang trial wraps up for two Chicago men

ROCKFORD — Attorneys in a high-profile federal drug-conspiracy case spent Monday recapping a week’s worth of testimony and making final arguments to the jury, which will begin deliberations this morning.

Prosecutors described the drug and gun case against former Chicago residents Montrell McSwain and Bradford Dodson as “the ultimate in reality TV” as they prepared jurors for the viewing of several hours of secret footage taken from inside a Rockford drug house that McSwain and Dodson allegedly helped run.

“What you saw was only a fraction of the drug activity that was going on,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Karner said. “This was just one house, 33 days, 2,000 hours. ... But those snippets speak volumes of what the Brothers were doing in Rockford.”

The Brothers was the name that the former Chicago gang members adopted when they moved to Rockford and started to take over the heroin and crack cocaine markets, Karner argued. Eventually, that grew into a $5,000-a-day drug business operating out of several houses.

A dozen of the 16 people arrested in 2005 when the drug ring was broken already have pleaded guilty and are in the process of negotiating their sentences. Some testified at trial against their fellow gang members and former business partners.

Now, a jury will determine the fate of Dodson and McSwain. They face up to life in prison if found guilty.

Also on trial is Lee Allen of Rockford for aiding the conspiracy. The self-professed former heroin addict is accused of assisting the drug operation by fortifying the doors of drug houses.

Both Dodson’s and McSwain’s attorneys said their clients merely were bragging on the video when they spoke of using weapons and how much money the business was making.

“A conspiracy is an agreement by two or more people to accomplish unlawful purposes,” Dodson’s attorney Donald Sullivan said. “There was no agreement.”

Authorities allege the drug ring was made up almost entirely of former Chicago residents who were members of the Titanic Stones, a street gang based on Chicago’s Southwest Side.

The ring was broken up after an undercover informant convinced the ring’s leader, Darrell D. “Duck” Davis, to run the base of operations out of a home on Kishwaukee Street secretly outfitted with police microphones and cameras. Davis pleaded guilty in November.

Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Rockford police officials conducted surveillance on the house for several weeks, collecting evidence about the drug conspiracy and other crimes.