Federal authorities announced charges against 13 men for operating an “open-air” drug market in which they sold fentanyl-laced heroin and cocaine. They have since been charged with drug trafficking related to the sale and manufacture of fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine. The men are suspected to be members of the Traveling Vice Lords gang. Authorities say they ran a multi-year investigation into the crew executing search warrants at multiple locations where the drugs were sold. Multiple locations throughout Chicago and Chicago suburbs were targeted as part of the investigation.
Authorities seized more than a kilo of cocaine, more than 250 grams of heroin containing fentanyl, 10 firearms, two 50-round drum ammunition magazines, several extended ammunition magazines, and nine vehicles.
What is an “Open-Air” Drug Market?
An open-air drug market is a bit like a flea market for drug trafficking. It operates in a well-defined area so that buyers and sellers can easily locate one another. According to the Office of Justice Programs, open-air drug markets “contribute to a wide range of social disorder and drug-related crimes.” The quality of life in surrounding communities takes a nose dive where these markets operate. Open-air drug markets, as opposed to closed drug markets, are likely to operate outdoors and, by their very nature, are less secure than closed drug markets, which operate clandestinely. These markets may operate on street corners or within public or privately-owned apartment complexes.
Such markets were operated extensively during the 1980s and 1990s but are now mainly hybrid (open and closed) drug markets.
Analyzing the Charges
The men responsible for the open-air drug markets are facing a litany of charges related to weapons and drug trafficking. They are being charged by the federal government, which means that they will be facing mandatory minimum sentences related to the operation of these drug markets. It is not a good spot to be in. 13 men are facing federal charges related to the drug markets, while another 19 are facing state charges.
Due to the amount of drugs confiscated from the site, the defendants will be charged under 21 USC 841(b)(1)(B), which carries a mandatory minimum of 5 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum of 40 years. In order to qualify under that statute, you must possess more than 100 grams of heroin. These particular defendants were found in possession of more than 250 grams of heroin which also contained fentanyl.
These are severe drug charges, and the mandatory minimums faced by the defendants are governed by statute. That means that a judge would not be able to sentence them to less time unless their attorney could get the charges against them amended or dropped. In cases where you have an open-air drug market, it will be challenging for an attorney to plead the case down to a lower sentence unless the DEA and federal authorities skirted the law when investigating the crimes.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
David Freidberg represents the interests of Chicago residents who are facing drug-related criminal charges. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.