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27 charged in West Side drug market

Zachary T. FardUnited States Attorney for Northern District Illinois announces drug charges for 27 defendants for their alleged roles supplying

Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois announces drug charges for 27 defendants for their alleged roles in supplying and distributing heroin and crack cocaine on the westside. Thursday, June 12, 2014 | Brian Jackson/ Sun-Times

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Updated: June 12, 2014 2:04PM

Twenty-seven people have been charged with selling heroin and crack cocaine on Chicago’s West Side, the U.S. Attorney’s office said Thursday in a news release.

The charges were brought by both state and federal authorities, according to the news release.

Local law enforcement, including U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and officials from the Chicago Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration planned to hold a 2 p.m. press conference to discuss the case.

The nearly yearlong investigation into the drug market on the West Side resulted in federal charges against 14 people and state charges against 13. Authorities began their arrests this morning.

Eight handguns, an AR-15 assault rifle, about $140,000 and about a half-kilo of heroin and some cocaine were seized Thursday during the arrests.

Among the 27 charged is a leader of the Conservative Vice Lords street gang, which authorities said controlled the distribution of drugs near Douglas Park.

Kenneth Shoulders, 47, allegedly controlled the corners and assigned individuals to run them. Those people then “further delegated distribution to shift workers who sold heroin and crack cocaine throughout the day,” according to the press release.

A cooperating individual told authorities last year that Shoulders is “a high-ranking member of the Conservative Vice Lords who controlled all of the Vice Lords and drug operations in the area known as ‘12th Street’ north of Roosevelt Road between the 1100 and 1200 blocks,” according to the press release.

The cooperator, an admitted member of the 12th Street faction of the Traveling Vice Lords, said the gang consists primarily of Conservative Vice Lord members but also members of the Traveling Vice Lords, Black Souls Nation, Gangster Disciples and New Breed street gang.

“The non-Vice Lord members are mostly ‘pack workers’ or street-level drug dealers who have no direct allegiance to the 12th Street Vice Lords other than making money from selling drugs within the 12th Street territory,” according to the press release.

The federal court documents allege that Shoulders was a “wholesale supplier of heroin.”

And it appears it was a family affair. Among his co-workers were his sister, Sandra “Penny” Shoulders, 49, of Chicago and his son, Kenneth “Lil’ Kenny” Williams, 29, of Chicago.

Another cooperator told authorities that Williams allegedly managed his father’s heroin distribution at the corner of West Fillmore and South Francisco. A man charged in Cook County, Charles Weathersby, 31, allegedly managed Shoulders’ crack cocaine distribution from that same corner.

The Shoulders drug trafficking organization operated from the main stash house at 211 South Lavergne, along with locations at 2902 and 2950 West Fillmore, and 1107 South Mozart, according to authorities.

“Other defendants allegedly diluted the heroin to increase profits, shuttled heroin among the various stash and retail locations, advised Shoulders when a new supply was needed and returned his share of the profits to him,” authorities allege. “The Shoulders organization’s heroin was typically packaged in small user-portion plastic bags with either a green dollar sign or a black bomb symbol stamped on them.”

One federal complaint charges nine defendants: Shoulders, Washington, Sandra Shoulders, Williams, Anthony “Mustafa” Hayes, 48; Harrison Hall, 50; Tiara White, 27; Marleana Porter, 20; and Crane Marks, 50. All are from Chicago and are charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute more than a kilogram of heroin, authorities said. If convicted, they each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment and a $10 million fine.

In a separate complaint, Rodney “Bump” Bedenfield, 40, of Chicago, was charged separately with supplying heroin to the Shoulders organization. Marc Davis, 45, of Chicago, is accused of supplying heroin to Bedenfield, and was charged with Queenie Vargas, 25, of Chicago. She’s an alleged courier who transported heroin for Davis. If convicted, these three defendants face a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years and a $5 million fine.

Separately, Dorian Miller, 42, of Riverdale, and Jewneus Wilson, 35, of Chicago, are charged separately with buying heroin from Bedenfield. If convicted, they face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Charged by the state, in addition to Weathersby, are Chicagoans Jim Dunbar, 19; Amos Hadley, 61; David Higgs, 37; Deonte Hollingworth, 26; Paris Holmes, 18; John Perry, 26; Nikki Sanders, 21; Milton Taylor, 30; Antwone Washington, 20; Nathaniel Yancey, 21; Shardell Green, 27; and Antwone Henry, 27.

“This case mirrors the trending alignment of Chicago’s street gangs into localized drug-dealing factions, and the investigation is another example of the extraordinary cooperation among the Chicago Police Department, DEA and other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies,” Zachary T. Fardon, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, said in the news release. “While this case focuses on narcotics trafficking and the complaint does not allege these defendants committed any acts of violence, we believe that bringing serious charges such as these is an effective tool in reducing violence in our communities.”

The federal defendants are scheduled to appear in court later this afternoon.

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