By Jim Kouri
Fifteen Chicago men were charged in grand jury indictments or criminal complaints filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court or Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago with violating both state and federal gun laws, according to a report obtained by the 14,000-member National Association of Chiefs of Police.
Thirteen of the defendants were arrested on Thursday at various locations in and around Chicago, without incident, by members of the Chicago FBI Joint Task Force on Gangs and officers from the Chicago Police Department. Two other defendants — Marcus Jefferson and Terrill Smith — avoided capture and are now the subjects of nationwide manhunts.
Six of those arrested were charged in separate federal grand jury indictments with felon in possession of a firearm and/or distribution of a controlled substance. Those charged federally are identified as Marcus Jefferson, 31; Maurice Martin, 41; Carlos Mendez, 33; Keith Murray, 45; Terrill Smith, 23; and Bruce Weatherspoon, 30; all residents of Chicago.
An additional suspect, Ramon Favela, 38, also of Chicago, was arrested and subsequently charged in a criminal complaint with possession and distribution of a controlled substance.
Eight others were charged in criminal complaints filed in state court with unlawful sale of a firearm or unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. They are Aaron Bassett, 22; Corey Bramlett, 19; Trimell Collins, 27; Gregory Freeman, 23; David Hill, 22; Cornelius Lee, 28; James Toomer, 27; and Carlos Williams, 39, all Chicago residents.
According to the grand jury indictments and criminal complaints, all of those charged were involved in the illegal possession or sale of firearms, including handguns, shotguns and assault rifles on Chicago’s west and south sides, since April of 2010. These weapons are alleged to have been purchased outside of Illinois, transported to Chicago where the defendants took possession of them, then eventually sold to undercover operatives for amounts ranging from $ 250.00 to $1600.00.
The investigation leading to the filing of the charges announced today is part of an ongoing and coordinated effort by the FBI and CPD’s Organized Crime Bureau and Gang Investigations Division to identify those responsible for illegally supplying firearms to Chicago’s criminal element, which are often used in street violence. During the course of this investigation, which incorporated sophisticated physical and electronic surveillance techniques and controlled undercover purchases, 48 firearms were recovered.
“Today’s arrests are crucial in our ongoing efforts to target and cut off the flow of illegal weapons onto our streets which is driving the violence plaguing so many of our communities,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. She added “The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office stands united with our partners in sharing all of our resources to continue to target and aggressively prosecute this type of gun trafficking.”
Two of the defendants were ordered held without bond, pending their next court appearance, which is scheduled for Monday, December 19. The remaining defendants were released on house arrest and electronic monitoring. If convicted of the charges filed against them, all seven federal defendants face a possible sentence ranging from 10 years to life in prison.
Those charged in state court appeared at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse yesterday, at which time they were formally charged. All eight defendants were ordered held on bonds ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 and all face sentences ranging from three to seven years in prison.
The Chicago FBI’s Joint Task Force on Gangs is comprised of FBI special agents and officers from the Chicago Police Department.