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Undercover Sting in Uptown Nabs Eight Suspects, Drugs, Cash, Gun: Police

By Adeshina Emmanuel | February 24, 2014 9:33pm
 Police said an undercover investigation nabbed eight people tied to a drug trafficking operation in Uptown, but four suspects remain on the lam.
Uptown Takedown
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UPTOWN — Police said an undercover investigation nabbed eight people tied to a drug trafficking operation in Uptown this month, but four suspects remain on the lam.

As part of the takedown, police seized crack cocaine, powder cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy and heroin with a combined street value estimated at more than $22,000, while also recovering a gun and about $3,700 in cash, according to authorities.

The investigation targeted the area in and around West Wilson Avenue and North Broadway, according to police. Wilson and Broadway is a known crime hotspot for both drug activity and shootings that has been described by local residents and authorities as a battleground for street gangs vying to control the turf.

It's just west of the Wilson Red Line that's awaiting a $203 million makeover — in an area Ald. James Cappleman (46th) has referred to as the "epicenter" of crime in Uptown.

Investigators used surveillance and numerous controlled narcotics transactions to identify 12 individuals allegedly responsible for drug sales in the community, according to police.

Eight people have been arrested as a result of the investigation, police said Monday.

The suspects are all men between the ages of 19 and 50, and all but one lives in Uptown, according to police. They are being held at Cook County Jail with various court dates scheduled this week through March.

The following men have been charged in the case, police said:

  • Alula Berhe, 19, of the 800 block of West Eastwood Avenue, faces a felony count of manufacturing/delivering cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, and one charge for having an outstanding warrant. Berhe is being held without bail.
  • Christopher McGhee, 21, of the 4400 block of North Magnolia Avenue, faces three felony counts of manufacturing/delivering cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, and is being held in lieu of $50,000 bond.
  • Frano Ripa, 22, of the 4500 block of North Clarendon Avenue, faces three felony counts for possession of marijuana, cocaine and another unnamed controlled substance, as well as a misdemeanor charge for illegal possession of a firearm. It wasn't clear Monday how much Ripa's bail was.
  • Andre Williams, 26, of the 4400 block of North Racine Avenue, faces two felony counts of manufacturing/delivering cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, and one felony count of criminal damage to government property. He's being held on $100,000 bond.
  • Robert Barnett, 29, of the 4500 block of North Malden Avenue, faces three felony counts of manufacturing/delivering cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, and is being held on $50,000 bond.
  • Ramon Young, 34, of the 4600 block of North Clifton Avenue, faces three felony counts of manufacturing/delivering cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school and is being held on $75,000 bond.
  • James Lofton Jr., 46, of the 4600 block of North Broadway, faces eight charges total: four felony counts of manufacturing/delivering cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, one felony count and one misdemeanor for marijuana possession, and one charge for having an outstanding warrant. Lofton is being held without bond.
  • Danny Davis, 50, of 6200 block of South Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, faces two felony counts of manufacturing/delivering cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school and is held on $50,000 bond.

Police said that the arrests were part of an ongoing investigation, and that authorities still seek four more suspects. Police, wary of compromising the investigation, have been mum about when it began and whom they are targeting, and they declined to discuss if the men arrested are gang-related.

Authorities also declined to say whether the handgun recovered has been tied to any other crimes.