Arrests Made in Disruption of Suspected Mexico-to-Chicago Drug Pipeline

Police officers of the Brigade des Réseaux Ferrés (BRF - Railway Network Squad) detain a man during a patrol in the metro in Paris on November 2, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS GUILLOT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images

Three people were arrested on federal charges during an investigation that disrupted a suspected Mexico-to-Chicago drug pipeline, the United States Attorney’s Office Northern District of Illinois announced Monday.

The bust resulted in the seizure of a private plane and 100 kilograms of cocaine, the agency’s press release said.

The release continued:

Federal agents on Wednesday discovered 80 kilograms of cocaine in a vehicle in Chicago’s River North neighborhood and another 20 kilograms of the drug in a hotel room in the city’s Gold Coast neighborhood, according to criminal complaints filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.  The cocaine had allegedly been transported to the Chicago area earlier Wednesday via private plane from Toluca, Mexico, via Houston, Texas.  The plane arrived at Gary/Chicago International Airport in Gary, Ind., and the drugs were driven in suitcases to downtown Chicago, the charges allege.

Two of the defendants – SEBASTIAN VAZQUEZ-GAMEZ, 30, of Toluca de Lerdo, Mexico, and RODRIGO ALEXIS JIMENEZ-PEREZ, 25, of Columbus, Ind. – were arrested Wednesday in downtown Chicago, while the third defendant – SERGIO IVAN BLAS, 39, of Indianapolis, Ind. – was arrested Thursday in the Indianapolis area.  Federal agents today obtained a warrant to seize the private plane, a Bombardier Challenger 600.

Video footage showed the plane inside a hangar and the drugs in what appeared to be a suitcase and black bag:

A detention hearing for Jimenez-Perez was set for Tuesday, Vazquez-Gamez was scheduled to appear for a hearing on Wednesday, and Blas was set to make a court appearance also on Tuesday.

The press release detailed the initial events:

According to the charges, Vazquez-Gamez arrived on the plane from Houston and loaded suitcases full of cocaine into a Lincoln Navigator sport-utility vehicle.  Vazquez-Gamez and others from the plane entered the Lincoln and were driven to the hotel in Chicago, the complaints state.  Outside the hotel, Vazquez-Gamez loaded some of the suitcases into a Toyota Highlander sport-utility vehicle driven by Jimenez-Perez, the charges allege.  Agents pulled over the Toyota a few blocks away, seized the suitcases containing 80 kilograms of cocaine, and arrested Jimenez-Perez.  Agents later arrested Vazquez-Gamez in his hotel room, where they seized the other 20 kilograms of cocaine, the charges allege.

“The complaint against Blas accuses him of directing Jimenez-Perez on where to meet Vazquez-Gamez to pick up the cocaine,” the release said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection aircrews joined the Coast Guard to seize approximately nine tons of cocaine in three separate incidents during July and August, Breitbart News reported.

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