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Elgin, Bartlett men among 11 arrested in big DEA drug-trafficking bust

Updated: October 22, 2012 6:23AM

CHICAGO — Two men from Elgin and one from Bartlett were among 10 arrested Wednesday as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration took down what they believe to be a major heroin- and cocaine-trafficking operation connecting Mexico to the Chicago area. An 11th suspect, who lives in Wisconsin, remains at large.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago said a lengthy investigation involving wiretaps came to a head on the evening of March 5 when two brothers driving a flatbed tow truck carrying a blue Honda Prelude exited the Kennedy Expressway at Armitage Avenue in Chicago.

Chicago police officers stopped the tow truck and identified the driver and his passenger. Noting that the Honda was registered to another individual, the officers asked if the vehicle was stolen, and the driver replied that to his knowledge it was not. The officers subsequently seized the Honda and allowed the two men to depart in the tow truck.

Police and federal agents actually had the car under surveillance since it was picked up that evening on Chicago’s South Side. Based on intercepted telephone conversations between the tow truck occupants and another man after the stop, authorities said, a police canine was brought to the Blue Honda and indicated the likely presence of drugs at the rear of the car. DEA agents obtained a federal warrant to search the car and found two boxes containing about 20 kilograms (about 50 pounds) of heroin, the release said.

The tow truck occupants, Chicago brothers Mario Coria and Omar Coria, and the man they spoke to on the phone, 29-year-old Alberto Guadarrama of Bartlett, were among the 10 men taken into custody who were named in six separate federal court criminal complaints.

Major operation

They all appeared before Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez in U.S. District Court and remain in federal custody pending detention hearings scheduled for Monday.

“This operation strikes down a major Mexican criminal organization that routinely distributed high-quality heroin throughout the Midwest,” said Jack Riley, special agent-in-charge of the DEA’s Chicago Field Division. “The arrests by DEA and its state and local law enforcement partners effectively dismantled a significant trafficking organization that was responsible for the distribution of multi-kilogram quantities of heroin on the streets of Chicago.”

Guadarrama and the Coria brothers were charged each with conspiracy to distribute multi-kilogram quantities of heroin and cocaine.

Victor Manuel Contreras, 43, of Elgin; Mario Ortiz, 34, of Elgin; Orlando Penaloza, 28, of Harvard; and Miguel Ortuno-Gomez, 30, of Madison, Wis., were charged each in a four-count complaint. The charges allege that Contreras delivered 3 kilos of cocaine to Ortiz on June 5 and that, later the same day, Ortiz delivered the same 3 kilos of cocaine to Penaloza.

Later still on June 5, according to the complaint, Contreras delivered 2 additional kilos of cocaine to Ortiz and Ortiz delivered that cocaine to Ortuno-Gomez. Ortuno-Gomez is the only defendant who was not arrested Wednesday and is a fugitive.

If convicted of the current charges, Contreras, Guadarrama and Ortiz face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and could be sentenced to life, plus a fine of up to $10 million.

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