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Police seize 12,000 pounds of pot on West Side

Chicago Police seize cannabis valued more than $33 Millimultiple  weapons vehicles by Narcotics Unit.  Officer Randi O'Carroll 'Lumpy'

Chicago Police seize cannabis valued at more than $33 Million, multiple weapons and vehicles by Narcotics Unit. Officer Randi O'Carroll and "Lumpy' her canine dog (left) and Officer Jose Perez, with canine dog, "Achilles" with part of the 12,000 pounds of cannabis pictured during news conference by Police officials, Tuesday, August 23, 2011. | John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 16, 2011 1:30AM



Police seized more than six tons of marijuana on the West Side Monday — the largest local pot bust conducted solely by Chicago police,­ officials said.

The street value of the confiscated marijuana is estimated at more than $33 million, said Lt. Robert Cervenka of the narcotics and gangs investigation section.

Seven men were charged in connection with Monday’s seizure.

Officers conducted a surveillance of the warehouse, at 1038 S. Kolmar, after they received a tip that there were large quantities of narcotics in the building, assistant Cook County State’s attorney Jacqueline James said at the men’s bond hearing Tuesday.

When authorities were tipped off that a large load of the drugs was to arrive, they went to the address early in the morning, where they saw men unloading large containers from a semi-truck and into the warehouse, James said.

Though the 25 pound bricks of cannabis, many bearing the label “AK-47,” were wrapped in layers of cellophane, aluminum and ball bearing grease, the narcotic’s odor was detected by two canines, Lumpy and Achilles.

“You and I might smell a cheeseburger, but [the dogs] smell the onion, the bread, the tomato and so on,” said Sgt. Job Hernandez, police canine supervisor. “[The men] took off running when we got there,” he added. The unloading was allegedly being conducted with a small flashlight and in very “dark conditions,” prosecutors said.

Officers eventually found two large bundles — 9,800 pounds — of cannabis inside the warehouse, as well as nearly 2,500 pounds inside a vehicle in the parking lot. Seven vehicles, a rifle and a pistol were confiscated in addition to the more than 12,000 pounds of pot.

All seven men arrested were charged with felony possession of cannabis. Manuel Sanchez, who allegedly drove a cargo van full of marijuana out of the building to another facility, at 4443 W. Fillmore, was also charged with trafficking of cannabis.

Judge Jackie Portman ordered Sanchez, 37, held on $600,000 cash bond. Jesus Munoz, of California, was ordered held on $500,000 cash bond. The 20-year-old was driving the cargo vans into the warehouse, James said.

The alleged lookout of the operation, Ruben Salazar, 37, of the 2700 block of West Artesian, was ordered held on $300,000 bond.

And another man, Sotero Salazar, of the 6200 block of West Cuyler, was ordered held on $300,000 cash bond. Salazar, 37, was seen opening the gates of the warehouse with keys, James said.

The following were also ordered held on $300,000 cash bond:

◆ Daniel Saucedo, 36, of the 5900 block of South Austin.

◆ Salvador Lopez, 28, of California.

◆ Calderon Sandoval, 25, of Grandview, Wa.



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