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Weekend Arrests: Cocaine Bust in Wicker Park, Taggers Allegedly Nabbed

By Alisa Hauser | April 29, 2013 9:10am | Updated on April 29, 2013 10:42pm

WICKER PARK — From catching alleged graffiti taggers in the act to busting what cops said was an illegal party with drugs, police in Wicker Park and Bucktown were busy Sunday, according to authorities.

In the tagger incident, Kevin Rodgers, 22, Kenneth Stranc, 21, and Chase Hopper, 22, were taken into police custody about 2 a.m. Sunday shortly after they were allegedly observed to be covering an electrical signal box with graffiti tags on the 2000-2100 block of North Elston Avenue  just south of Webster Street in Bucktown.

The tags used by the trio included "CH8," "Big L," BART" and "ASER," police said.

The men all live on the 1900 block of West Henderson Street in Roscoe Village and were each charged with criminal defacement of property, criminal trespassing to land and possession of paint/marker with intent to deface.

A police sergeant said officers were responding to a call at Dolphin nightclub at 2200 N. Ashland Ave. when they noticed the taggers on a plot of vacant land that is the future site of a 75,000-square-foot Mariano's Fresh Foods that abuts the Metra tracks.

The sergeant said officers climbed the Metra tracks and were able to sneak up on the three men before the suspects could run away.

In the party bust, seven people were arrested at what police called an unlicensed establishment in the 1600 block of North Western Avenue in Wicker Park.

Police said they were executing a search warrant about 5 a.m. when they discovered a party at "an illegal social club" where "several individuals were in possession of narcotics."

Sources said "a lot of cocaine" was being served from behind a bar "like a cocaine bar."

Victor Gonzalez, 63, of the 4800 block of West Newport Avenue, who was the target of the search warrant, was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and operating video gaming machines without a license. 

Gonzalez also was charged with not having a public place of amusement license or a cigarette tax stamp. Four video gaming machines were found in his possession as well.

Gonzalez and several others arrested at the party appeared in Cook County Bond Court Monday.

"They all had their own drugs," Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Erin Antonietti said of Gonzalez's co-defendants;

Luis Ortiz, 44, of the 2200 block of N. Melvina Ave.; Stephanie Patino, 19, of the 2600 block of N. Keysone Ave.; Jason Ramos, 31, of the 3700 block of N. Albany St.; Hewnelson Vega, 55, of the 1200 block of N. California Ave.; and Jonathan Veguilla, 24, of the 2400 block of N. Parkside Ave.

A Cook County Judge ordered all of them released on "I" bonds, meaning they will be required to return to court on their own recognizance.

Erin Meyer contributed to this report.