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Some familiar suspects popping up in Elgin drug sweep

Eric Galarz| Submitted

Eric Galarza | Submitted

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Updated: June 2, 2013 2:38PM

ELGIN-The list of people arrested in the citywide “sweep” of drug-dealing, and especially heroin-dealing, is growing.

And it includes some familiar names, including the father of a little boy murdered in a gang-motivated shooting in 2011 and a young man who walked away from a fatal car crash on Plank Road last summer.

Police Cmdr. Glenn Theriault reported that as of Friday night, 52 of the 80 suspects targeted had been arrested.

The sweep began with a year-long investigation into drug sales in the Elgin area, which Theriault said identified approximately 80 individuals who ultimately sold narcotics to undercover officers.

He said 17 of those were arrested over the past four months, as the investigation went on, and arrest warrants were obtained for the other 63 on various charges.

On Thursday morning, 50 Elgin police, the Kane County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI began rounding up the suspects at their homes and workplaces. In the first eight hours of the operation, 22 more people were arrested, he said. Another 13 were snagged on Friday, raising the total to 52, and “the operation will continue over the coming days until all offenders are captured,” he said.

Sgt. Chris Jensen of the Elgin Police Drug Unit said his investigators were especially proud that they believe they have broken a heroin supply and distribution chain operating in the Poplar Creek neighborhood on Elgin’s far east side. Based on intelligence information, he said, this ring supplied drugs to customers from Cook, Kane, McHenry, Lake and DuPage counties.

Police identified the ring’s kingpin, arrested Friday, as a man who went by the street name “Black,” 30-year-old Curtis R. Thornton. Jensen said as many as 15 pushers apparently worked under Thornton.

Thornton was charged with five counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance and one felony weapons charge.

Galarza and Hill

One man frequently in the news — 32-year-old former Elgin resident Eric M. Galarza Sr. — had his arrest warrant served on him in a downstate prison. He is charged with unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.

Police believe Galarza was the target when someone fired a volley of shots into a car containing him and his family in October 2011 as it was backing out of a driveway on Elgin’s northeast side. The only person hit, his 6-year-old son Eric Galarza Jr., was killed. Another member of Galarza’s gang, Miguel Hernandez Jr., is awaiting trial on murder charges.

Galarza Sr. became a fugitive a year ago after he led police on a high-speed chase through Wayne, fleeing from charges that he had beaten his own wife and threatened her with a gun. He finally ran away from his car on foot, leaving his two surviving children in the vehicle. But he was caught in Texas last November and still awaits charges on the battery case. Meanwhile, in February he was sentenced to three years in prison for severely injuring a man in a bar fight at the Cadillac Ranch nightclub in Bartlett in 2011.

Shannon D. Hill Jr., 18, of Elgin, was charged with three counts of distribution of a controlled substance. He was already facing felony charges related to an incident on Plank Road west of Elgin last Labor Day weekend in which he and another man allegedly walked away from a car crash, leaving one friend dead and another seriously injured in the wreckage.

Hill was indicted in March on charges that include reckless homicide, aggravated driving under the influence, failure to report an accident involving death and speeding more than 40 mph over the speed limit.

Witness statements appearing in a court affidavit said Hill’s car had been traveling at more than 100 mph, passing other vehicles and weaving across lanes just before the crash.

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