Feds: Gangster Disciples leader, crew charged with dealing drugs
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter August 7, 2014 12:51PM
Updated: August 7, 2014 8:04PM
An aging alleged West Side gang leader who goes by the street name “Goo” was arrested and charged with dealing heroin and crack cocaine alongside 34 members of his Gangster Disciples faction, authorities say.
Johnny Herndon — a 55-year-old whose crew operated in West Garfield Park — has dealt drugs since the early 1990s, amassing personal wealth that includes more than 30 real estate properties valued at more than $1.6 million, prosecutors say.
His faction traded at an open air drug market around the 4500 block of West Jackson, taking advantage of passing traffic from the nearby Eisenhower Expressway, dubbed the “Heroin Highway,” it’s alleged.
In addition to Herndon, Chicago police and ATF and IRS agents began arresting 19 federal and 15 state defendants early Thursday.
Three guns, $10,000 in cash, and more than a half-kilogram of heroin were seized during the arrests, the feds said. Another 13 guns and hundreds of grams of heroin, crack cocaine, powder cocaine and marijuana were previously seized, they said.
Herndon’s alleged underboss, Christopher Harris, was among those nabbed. He was twice this year caught on wiretaps ordering guns be brought to him, according to a federal complaint.
He was found with a .357 caliber revolver on June 7, when the feds suspect he wanted revenge for a murder of a member of Herndon’s crew, the complaint states.
Controlling the 300 block of South Kilbourn and the 4400 block of West Congress, the crew allegedly sold 540 rocks of crack cocaine daily for $10 each. The operation netted them $162,000 a month, the charges allege.
Herndon also had a wholesale business selling heroin to crews on neighboring turfs, the feds say. He used the loot to buy rental properties, which made him more than $20,000 a month in rental income, it’s alleged.
In one secretly recorded conversation he boasted that he’d been selling drugs for 25 years, claiming he’d played college basketball but chosen a criminal life after he was cut in the NBA draft, the feds say.
If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life, as well as a $10 million fine.
U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, who have both previously said that Chicago cannot arrest its way out of its chronic gang crime problem, repeated that message at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
But McCarthy said that police would try to prevent dealers from returning to the blocks Herndon’s crew controlled by “holding on to that territory.”
“If demand still exists at that location, which it does, right now... as long as they go there, the supply will show up again,” McCarthy said.
“You know what, I’m not trying to stop narcotics in this country,” he added. “I’m trying to improve the quality of life for the citizens who live in that area, who’ve been held hostage by a narcotics gang.”