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By Jason Meisner
A man who was arrested almost 1 ½ years ago continued to direct his cocaine and marijuana operation while he was in custody, according to charges against nearly two dozen individuals unveiled today by federal authorities in Chicago.
Following the arrest last year of Victor Mata Madrigal, 37, of Lombard, agents found nearly $4 million in cash stuffed into duffel bags, suitcases and backpacks and hidden in a stash house in Park Ridge, authorities said.
In all, 22 defendants are facing federal narcotics charges for their alleged roles in importing, supplying and distributing large quantities of heroin and cocaine through interconnected drug trafficking organizations, prosecutors said. The organizations operated in the Chicago area, as well as in Mexico, California, Oregon, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Since Monday night, agents have arrested 14 defendants in the Chicago area, two in California and one each in Iowa and Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Three others were already in custody, and one is a fugitive believed to be in Mexico.
In total, during the investigation agents have seized approximately $5 million cash, 78 kilos of cocaine, 20 kilos of heroin and a large quantity of marijuana, prosecutors said.
The defendants were all charged with conspiracy or possession with intent to distribute narcotics in three separate criminal complaints unsealed today.
The investigation was led by the Chicago Strike Force, a coalition of FBI, DEA, and local police targeting the intersection of drug cartels smuggling large quantities of narcotics and the extensive distribution organizations of local street gangs.
“The Chicago Strike Force is a powerful collaboration of local, state, and federal law enforcement focused on the choke point between narcotics suppliers and street-level distributors,” U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said in a statement.