Joliet police, working with the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office, took down 10 drug dealers and confiscated more than 16 pounds of heroin, nearly 7 pounds of cocaine and $232,000, Joliet Police Chief Michael Trafton said Monday.
The investigation, dubbed "Operation Red Baron," resulted in the arrest of two Joliet men and the indictment of five others. The remaining three defendants hail from Ohio, Trafton said in a news release.
The arrests were made by FBI special agents and members of Joliet's narcotics unit, and face federal drug charges filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the release said.
"These arrests should considerably reduce the illegal narcotics distribution in the city of Joliet as well as surrounding communities," Trafton said in the release.
The ring was reportedly being run out of the Supermercado Joliet, a small market located at 379 Cass St. and owned by Ramiro Sanchez, 54, according to a story published by the Chicago Tribune, which reviewed recently unsealed federal documents filed in Chicago.
The Joliet Metropolitan Narcotics Squad is credited with the arrest of Sanchez and Mario Magana, 33, both of Joliet.
The investigation began in September 2011, when an informant started assisting Joliet police, the Trib story. The department, working with the FBI, orchestrated several drug buys through the informant, the story said.
Sanchez was identified as one of the area's top drug dealers, and that the heroin and cocaine seized has a street value in the millions, the Tribune said.
The first two busts led to the eventual indictments of Victor Lemus, 37, Jesus Gonzalez Zambrano, 42, Ismael Garibay, 39, Miguel Lopez, 47, and Jerry Hervey, 34, all of Joliet.
Also charged were Antione Matthews, 36, Lamar Egler, 33, and Lewis Hall, 38, all from the Cleveland area.