E.C. man charged in Chicago drug ring

EAST CHICAGO | Like many region commuters, Shawn Denton grew to resent how long it took him to get from his East Chicago apartment to his workplace in Chicago, federal court records state.

But recordings of Denton's phone calls documented in a federal search warrant suggest his commuter's anxiety may have been aggravated by his unusually demanding bosses and customers -- that is, the Gangster Disciples street gang and crackheads.

The East Chicago man was indicted by federal prosecutors in Chicago last month for allegedly overseeing the drug sales of one of the major players in Chicago's South Side crack-cocaine scene.

Denton, 28, is the godson of purported Gangster Disciple ringleader Victor "Old Man" Thompson, 46, according to a 60-page affidavit that was recently unsealed in federal court. Denton and Thompson were the highest-ranking of eight conspirators indicted in the bust, prosecutors allege.

The affidavit was included in a search warrant for Denton's apartment at 3449 Guthrie St., which he shares with his girlfriend and a young child.

Prosecutors allege Thompson's organization sold its crack in Chicago's Roseland neighborhood, near the corner of 116th Street and Stewart Avenue -- an area nick-named "the spot."

The lengthy charging document includes detailed descriptions of Denton's phone calls, including one on Nov. 1, 2006, in which he laments having to drive all the way back to East Chicago because the crack demand had been high that afternoon.

"Man, I gotta to way home," Denton is alleged to have said during the conversation.

"For what?" a female voice asked.

"I ran out," Denton said, referring to crack cocaine.

"For real?" the female voice questions. "You should have known to bring enough out here. It's the first, baby!"

Special Agent Fernando Cervantes, of the Drug Enforcement Administration, interpreted the woman's comment to mean that "because it was the first of the month, drug customers would have received their welfare checks and would have money to spend," court records state.

Imani Chiphe, Denton's defense attorney, did not return phone calls placed by The Times seeking comment on the case.

The Gangster Disciples are Chicago's largest street gang, with thousands of members, and federal officials say the organization has long maintained a presence in East Chicago's harbor section.

Northern Illinois U.S. Attorney spokesman Randall Samborn declined to comment on whether Denton is suspected of selling his drugs in East Chicago. Undercover informants bought drugs from him 19 times near "the spot" in Chicago, prosecutors allege.