COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Police seized nearly $7 million worth of cocaine from a tomato shipment at a North Side warehouse last month, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The bust was part of an ongoing federal drug investigation into cocaine trafficking in Chicago, Assistant State's Attorney Michael Vojta said during a bond hearing Wednesday.
Jorge Dominguez, 49, and Salvador Abundis, 47, were arrested this week and charged with calculated criminal drug conspiracy.
According to prosecutors, investigators got a tip that Dominguez and Abundis were expecting a large shipment of drugs in early December.
The men allegedly bought a warehouse, and on Dec. 9 accepted a shipment of 50 palettes of tomatoes. Inside three of those palettes, prosecutors said, were 723 packages (or 54 kilograms) of cocaine.
The wholesale value of the drugs is roughly $1.76 million, Vojta said. Once it's packaged and sold, the estimated street value is $6.75 million, he said.
Prosecutors said the warehouse was on the North Side, but gave no more details. Dominguez and Abundis live in separate homes in the 3000 block of North Luna Avenue in Belmont Cragin, court records show.
Late last week, investigators learned that Dominguez was going to meet with a money launderer, prosecutors said. After the meeting, police stopped the launderer on his way into a bank and seized $48,000, according to authorities.
Another $140,000 was later seized at Abundis' Belmont Cragin home when police executed a search warrant Tuesday morning, court records show.
Cook County Judge Laura Sullivan on Wednesday ordered each man held in lieu of $1 million cash. That means Dominguez and Abundis will need to post the full $1 million bond in order to leave Cook County Jail. There's no 10 percent option.
Should the men post bond, they'll have to prove in a hearing that the money they used was obtained legally.
Both men were born in Mexico and have ties to the country, prosecutors said.
According to his public defender, Abundis has no criminal background. He has lived in Cook County for 30 years, is married, has four children and works full time in construction.
Dominguez' public defender said Dominguez has lived in the county for 25 years and has two children.
The attorney also said Dominguez works full time in construction, but Vojta quickly interjected that authorities have been watching Dominguez for some time and have never seen him involved in any type of work beyond narcotics sales.
In 2007, Dominguez was found guilty in a Michigan marijuana case, but fled the state before he was sentenced, prosecutors said. Georgia issued a warrant for drug charges in 2000, according to court testimony.
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