NORTH CENTRAL NARCOTICS TASK FORCE
Illinois State Police
NCNTF IN THE NEWS
NCNTF IN THE NEWS
Probation, $34,000 fine in Elgin indoor pot growing case
March 22, 2013, Daily Herald
By Harry Hitzeman
A 55-year-old Elgin man was sentenced to three years probation and fined a little more than $34,000 after pleading guilty to possession of more than 50 marijuana plants, according to court records.
Justin B. Brooks was arrested in October 2012 after members of the North Central Narcotics Task Force, a special unit of the Illinois State Police, searched his home in the 9N700 block of Whispering Springs Lane.
Authorities said they seized 77 plants worth an estimated $154,000. Equipment for the growing operation, packaging materials and scales also were seized, officials said.
Brooks served two days in jail before posting bond and initially pleaded not guilty in mid-February, according to court records.
Brooks reached a plea agreements this week, admitting to possession of between 50 and 200 marijuana plants, a felony that was eligible for probation but also carried a top prison term of seven years.
If Brooks violates probation before March 2016, he could be resentenced to time behind bars.
Brooks' defense attorney, James Tatooles, did not return a phone message seeking comment.
Kane County Judge Karen Simpson accepted the plea.
Brooks did not have any previous felony arrests in Kane County before the October arrest.
Two St. Charles residents face felony drug charges after a state police unit searched their home and seized two ounces of cocaine and two pounds of marijuana, with an estimated street value of between $6,500 and $11,100, authorities said.
Michael Stellwagen, 42, and Susanne L. Russell, 52, both of the 43W700 block of Fescue Court, are both free on bond and due in court Feb. 6.
Stellwagen is charged with felony possession of between 15 and 100 grams of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of 500 to 2,000 grams of marijuana with intent to deliver and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, according to court records.
The most serious charge carries a penalty of six to 30 years in prison if convicted with no possibility of probation.
Russell is charged with possession of 15 to 100 grams of cocaine and 500 to 2,000 grams of marijuana, according to court records, and faces up four to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Illinois Police Master Sgt. Bill Backus, who also is director of the North Central Narcotics Task Force, said authorities executed a search warrant at about 10 a.m. Friday at the home and seized 51.2 grams of cocaine, 1,017 grams of marijuana, and other items, such as scales. Stellwagen was arrested on the spot; Russell went to the St. Charles police station later for questioning and was later arrested.
Stellwagen does not have any previous drug arrests in Kane County. He was arrested in May 2010 in South Elgin and faced a driving under the influence charge which was later reduced to reckless driving, court records show.
Russell does not have any previous arrests in Kane County, according to court records.
Five Charged with Marijuana Trafficking
By Staff Reporter
Authorities say five people have been charged for trafficking nearly 600 pounds of marijuana from
The group had been under surveillance for three months by several police agencies before the investigation concluded Tuesday, according to a news release from the North Central Narcotics Task Force. Police seized 598 pounds of marijuana during the investigation.
Those charged with marijuana trafficking, possession of more than 5,000 grams of marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of more than 5,000 grams of marijuana include Richard G. Ecklund, 48; of the 2700 block of Sperry Court in Batavia; Dean A. Dziuba, 55, of the 1100 block of Lodgepole Court in Darien; Matthew A. Westerlin, 28, of the 300 block of Nebraska Street in Elburn; and Crystal L. Westerlin, 29, of the 300 block of Nebraska Street in Elburn. Mary L. Nunez, 57, of the 2700 block of
Bond was set Wednesday at $35 million for Ecklund, Dziuba, and Crystal and Matthew Westerlin. Bond for Nunez was set at $27 million.
In September, authorities received information about a marijuana trafficking organization based out of Kane and
During several days in November, police surveyed the suspects as they traveled from
Around 8 p.m. on Tuesday, authorities conducted simultaneous traffic stops on four vehicles occupied by the suspects.
Police pulled over a 2008 Toyota Camry at the intersection of
K-9s alerted police to drugs located in a 2009 Lexus and the 2008 Camry, where police seized 598 pounds of marijuana. Following the traffic stops, police searched homes in the 300 block of
The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the DuPage County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, the North Central Narcotics Task Force, the Illinois State Police, the
Copyright © 2012 Kane
Special Delivery: Eight Arrested in Cannabis by Mail Operation
The Courier-News, October 31, 2012
From Staff Reports
Eight men, including several from the Dundees and Elgin, were arrested on cannabis possession charges following an investigation into marijuana being mailed to a home in Cary, authorities said.
The arrests were made by agents from the North Central Narcotics Task Force and the U.S. Postal Service, with the assistance of the Crystal Lake and McHenry County Sheriff’s police.
According to a release issued Wednesday from the task force, law enforcement personnel received information that a package containing a substantial amount of cannabis had been mailed from California to a residence in the 700 block of Laurel Lane in Cary.
The task force and Postal Service executed a search warrant at the residence last Friday. During a search there, agents seized approximately 2,159 grams (about five pounds) of marijuana, approximately $1,500 in cash and numerous items of drug paraphernalia.
Charged with unlawful possession of cannabis and unlawful possession with intent to deliver were Joshua R. Ernst, 21, of Elgin; Jesse C. Peterson, 20, of West Dundee; Jacob N. McGowan, 21, of East Dundee; Eli P. Kulack and Ryan D. Kennedy, both 21 and both of Algonquin; Maurice R. Lebbos, 20, of Cary; and Dylan J. Trama, 20, of Barrington. Nicole B. Lebbos, 19, of Cary, was charged with misdemeanor unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.
The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are being reviewed by the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office, the release said.
Task Force Arrest 2 St. Charles Men, Seizes Cannabis, Drugs
Kane County Chronicle, October 31, 2012
By Staff Writer
In addition to 2,002 grams of cannabis, authorities seized 505 grams of THC-laced candies, 35 grams of THC oil, 30 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, 0.45 grams of cocaine and drug paraphernalia.
Two St. Charles men faced drug charges after authorities seized $50,000 in marijuana and other controlled substances from an apartment on the 100 block of Walnut Drive, the Kane County Chronicle reported Wednesday.
The Chronicle, citing a release from the North Central Narcotics Task Force, reported that Clark C. Weaver, 20, is charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver, a Class 1 felony; possession of marijuana, a Class 2 felony; two counts of possession of a controlled substance, a Class 4 felony; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor, the Chronicle reported. Edward E. Spitzer III, 20, of St. Charles, also was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor.
St. Charles Police participated in the enforcement action, the task force told the Chronicle.
Cops Bust Indoor Pot Growing Operation near Elgin
Daily Herald, October 30, 2012
By Harry Hitzeman
Authorities have busted an indoor marijuana growing operation near
Justin Brooks, 54, of the 9N700 block of
Brooks was arrested earlier this month after an investigation by the North Central Narcotics Task Force, which is a division of the Illinois State Police.
Lt. Bill Backus, the task force’s executive director, said authorities received information that Brooks was growing marijuana.
“It was a multistage indoor cannabis grown operation in his basement, we’re alleging,” Backus said. “We had information he was involved in cannabis production. Some were seedlings, some were larger. It was an ongoing operation.”
Each plant was valued at $2,000 and authorities said the plants were in different stages of cultivation.
“They were some quality cannabis plants, I would say that much,” Backus said. “It certainly was not low-quality marijuana.”
Backus also said that authorities seized drug paraphernalia, scales and other packaging material from Brooks’ home.
He is free after posting $10,000 bail and is next due in court on Dec. 14.
A message left with Brooks’ defense attorney, James Tatooles, was not returned.
By Al Lagattolla
It was the lightest sentence that Justin J. Heneghan could receive on the Class X felony. Judge Timothy Q. Sheldon cited a 17-page letter that Heneghan had written, explaining a difficult past, in which Heneghan's father was killed when he was just 8 years old. Sheldon also mentioned that he was encouraged that Heneghan had turned to religion.
The incident took place on May 27, 2010. Officers from the North Central Narcotics Task Force served a warrant at Heneghan's home. Heneghan leaped out of a second-story window and fled, but he was taken into custody. Officers found 191 pills of MDMA, also known as ecstasy, and 135.4 grams of marijuana. He also attempted to flee from a police vehicle on his way to the
He also pleaded guilty to a count of aggravated battery to a police officer, a count of unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and a count of attempted escape. He was charged with five years each on those counts, but they will be served concurrently.
At his sentencing hearing Thursday, Heneghan's grandparents testified that he had made a change in his life, but that he needed treatment for a drug addiction.
Heneghan was represented by Michael Tatman, a
"It is a very lengthy sentence," Tatman said. "It's not letting him walk."
Wascher acknowledged that Heneghan had an "absolutely horrific childhood," but she said that as an adult, Heneghan needed to accept more responsibility for his actions. She said it "has always been his choice to go back to criminal activity."
Traffic Stop nets $1.5M in Cocaine along I-90 in Elgin
Daily Herald, October 19, 2012
A traffic stop along Interstate 90 near Elgin Tuesday netted 35 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated $1.5 million on the street, authorities said.
Rogaciano P. Beruete, 57, of Fayetteville, Texas, faces felony charges of controlled substance trafficking, possession of more than 900 grams of cocaine and manufacture/delivery of more than 900 grams of cocaine, according to police and court records.
Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Bill Backus, who heads the North Central Narcotics Task Force, said Beruete was headed east on I-90 when he was pulled over around noon by a uniformed state trooper near Route 31 for speeding and improper lane use.
Backus said a second trooper arrived at the scene and conducted a search by walking his police dog around the car. A search turned up a package of cocaine, and the car was towed to a state facility off Interstate 90 and Route 20 in Marengo where authorities found 28 packages of cocaine weighing 35,117 grams in a hidden compartment in the floor of the vehicle, Backus said.
“In my professional opinion, he was just a transporter,” Backus said. “It’s was definitely a sizable seizure. There’s no doubt about that.”
Beruete is being held at the Kane County jail on $9 million bail, meaning he must post $900,000 in order to be free while the charges are pending. He is due in court on Wednesday.
Aurora man charged with money laundering
September 12, 2012, Beacon News
By Matt Hanley
An Aurora man is scheduled to be in court Wednesday on charges that he laundered more than $100,000 through local jewelry stores.
Mario Alvarez Vargas, 48, 900 block of Sard Avenue, is charged with 27 felony counts of unlawful structuring of a currency transaction and 18 counts of felony money laundering, according to Kane County court records. His attorney, Kathleen Colton, said Vargas will plead not guilty in Kane County Court on Wednesday.
According to records filed in the case, Vargas is accused of depositing more than $140,000 cash in various bank accounts across in Kane, DuPage, Kendall, Will and Sangamon counties. The money was put into two jewelry store bank accounts and then withdrawn elsewhere, to avoid paying taxes on the income, according to court records. In at least one instance, investigators intercepted $50,000 cash that had been hidden in an air compressor that was en route to Mexico, the records show.
Colton said Vargas was indicted by a state grand jury, and his case was assigned to Kane County, where Vargas lives. She declined further comment on the case, saying she has not yet received documents to review all the allegations.
Search warrants associated with the case reveal that investigators from the State Police, Department of Homeland Security and the North Central Narcotics Task Force have been investigating Vargas for more than a year. Investigators used surveillance and wire taps to track Vargas’ actions, court records show.
According to search warrants, investigators followed Vargas as he made several large cash deposits at different banks on the same day. For instance, the search warrant shows that on Aug. 16, 2011, Vargas went to an Aurora restaurant and left 10 minutes later carrying a white bag. At 1:10 p.m. that same day, he drove to a bank in Naperville, where he stayed for about seven minutes. He then went to an Aurora branch of the same bank and stayed for about 10 minutes, the warrant says.
As investigators followed Vargas that day, he went to money wiring service in a Walmart, a post office, two Aurora banks and a money wiring business in different areas of Aurora, the warrant says. At 5:39 p.m., he pulled up to an Aurora jewelry store, where he counted out money and handed it to a driver.
An additional search warrant filed in the case says a man may have been selling large quantities of cocaine from the Aurora jewelry store that Vargas visited. There were no Kane County records of the employee being charged, however.
Police did not return calls for comment on this story.
In September 2011, investigators again followed Vargas as he stopped at two Aurora banks and a Bartlett bank in less than four hours, the warrant says. He then stopped at Aurora and Hanover Park jewelry stores; investigators believe Vargas was picking up money or receiving instructions at the jewelry store, the warrant says.
Police were able to determine that Vargas made four cash deposits at four branches of the same bank on Oct. 5: $7,685 at 10:12 a.m. in Aurora; $7,932 at 11:14 a.m. in Aurora; $7,856 at 11:58 a.m. in Naperville; and $6,127 at 12:21 p.m. in Plainfield, the warrant alleges.
According to the warrant, in February 2012, police were listening in as Vargas tried to verify that certain deposits were received. Investigators said the man talking to Vargas said they were having problems in Mexico, where the money was headed.
“I don’t have any problem,” Vargas replied, according to court records. “I report everything. I handle money.”
In March, investigators intercepted an air compressor tank that Vargas had mailed from Oswego to Guerrero, Mexico. When agents inspected the air compressor, they found rolls of $5, $10 and $20 bills stuffed into the tank, the warrant says. In all, there was $50,000 stuffed in the air compressor.
Not long after the package was stopped, according to court records, Vargas deposited $32,000 in five separate stops at banks in Batavia, Warrenville, Aurora and Naperville. The warrant indicates he sent a text message with the amount of those deposits to an unknown person that same day.
All of these deposits were made into accounts for two alleged jewelry stores. However, investigators could find no records that indicated Vargas had been buying jewelry from those companies, the warrant says.
July 30, 2012, Daily Herald
By Harry Hitzeman
An 18-year-old from
Krisada M. Cheung, of the 200 block of
If convicted of the most serious charge, manufacture/delivery of between 500 and 2,000 grams of marijuana, he could face up to seven years in prison.
A pound contains nearly 454 grams; Cheung is accused of selling at least 500 grams.
According to court documents filed over the weekend, Cheung is accused of selling the drugs to an undercover officer. The North Central Narcotics Task Force, which is a division of the Illinois State Police, is the main charging agency.
Additional information from the task force was not available Monday.
According to court documents, Cheung also is accused of delivering to undercover officers between 30 and 500 grams of marijuana; delivering 10 to 30 grams to undercover officers, and delivering between 2.5 and 10 grams to undercover officers.
It was not clear if there were four separate drug buys or just one large transaction.
He also is accused of possession of a controlled substance, in this case psilocybin, which is another name for hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Cheung is free on bond and due in court Aug. 8.
Police: Elgin man wanted to sell drugs near elementary school
Daily Herald, July 25, 2012
By Harry Hitzeman
Jayson P. Sturdivant, of the 1100 block of
He is being held on $500,000 bail, meaning he must post $50,000 to be free while his case is pending, since his arrest by the North Central Narcotics Task Force last week.
Bill Backus, master sergeant with the Illinois State Police and director of the task force, said authorities raided Sturdivant's residence at 4:50 a.m. July 19, seizing 13 grams of cocaine, about 2¼ pounds of marijuana, scales, plastic bags and $2,300.
He said the drugs were packaged for individual sale, and the marijuana had a street value of $4,500. Backus said Sturdivant was investigated for two months. Authorities say he sold drugs from his home, which is near a school.
Sturdivant is charged with intent to deliver between 1 and 15 grams of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, in this case Coleman Elementary,
If convicted of the most serious charge, he faces six to 30 years in prison without the possibility of probation.
Court records show that Sturdivant was sentenced to 30 months probation after being charged with possession of 30 grams to 500 grams of marijuana with intent to deliver within 1,000 feet of
Sturdivant is next due in court on Aug. 9.
Beacon News, May 8, 2012
By Matt Hanley
At Carranza’s home, task force members found more than a pound of cocaine, a money counter, 13 cell phones and about $18,000 cash, Weis said.
Carranza will have to serve three years probation when he is released from prison.
Many of the other people charged in the bust have pleaded guilty and been sentenced, according to court records.
Eddie Hernandez, 21, 1000 block of
Jose Baez, 28, was sentenced to 18 months probation after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance. Gabriela Hernandez, 19, of the 1000 block of
The original investigation involved
Over the next few months, police conducted surveillance on suspects and obtained telephone wiretaps.
In 2010, Backus said the arrests were related to the drug investigation that led