CHICAGO — The alleged leader of the Black Disciples street gang in Chicago is among 23 individuals facing criminal charges as part of a federal investigation into drug and gun trafficking on the city’s South Side.
During the multi-year investigation, law enforcement seized 24 firearms, more than 13 kilograms of cocaine, more than a kilogram of heroin, approximately 1,350 grams of heroin laced with fentanyl, approximately 750 grams of fentanyl or fentanyl analogue, approximately 378 grams of crack cocaine, $52,595 in suspected illicit cash proceeds, and distribution quantities of suspected MDMA pills. Much of the alleged drug and gun trafficking occurred in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.
Indictments and criminal complaints unsealed this week in U.S. District Court in Chicago charge 22 of the defendants with various drug or firearm offenses, while one defendant faces bank fraud charges. The defendants were arrested Tuesday and have begun making initial appearances in federal court.
Included among the defendants is DARNELL MCMILLER, also known as “Murder,” who is described in the charges as the current leader of the Black Disciples street gang in Chicago. Several other alleged high-ranking members of the Black Disciples were also charged and arrested, including CLARENCE JANUARY, who allegedly leads the gang’s “Dog Pound” faction, and KENNETH BROWN, who allegedly supplied the gang with drugs for distribution in Chicago. CHARLES KNIGHT, an alleged high-ranking member of the Gangster Disciples street gang, is charged as part of the probe with supplying narcotics to McMiller’s crew.
The investigation was led by the FBI and Chicago Police Department, with assistance from ATF, DEA, IRS Criminal Investigation Division, the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force (HIDTA), and the FBI Windy City Task Force.
The charges and arrests were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI; David Brown, Superintendent of CPD; Kristen deTineo, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of ATF; Robert J. Bell, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the DEA; and Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent-in-Charge of IRS-CI in Chicago. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew J. Dixon, Esther Mignanelli, Tobara Richardson, and Jasmina Vajzovic represent the government.
Valuable assistance in the probe was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, which unsealed an eight-person indictment this week charging heroin trafficking offenses that are related to this investigation.
The Black Disciples are a national street gang that is prevalent throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. According to the charges, members of the Black Disciples have been distributing narcotics and guns in the Englewood neighborhood and other parts of Chicago. The charges describe more than 50 illicit transactions in which alleged Black Disciples members sold guns or drugs to individuals who were cooperating with law enforcement. In many instances, the cooperating individuals surreptitiously video-recorded the transaction at the direction of law enforcement.
The complaint against McMiller, 34, of Chicago, accuses him of conspiring with Knight, 56, of Riverdale, to distribute fentanyl-laced heroin to a cooperating individual on Sept. 30, 2019. The transaction occurred in the 7000 block of South Lowe Avenue in Chicago, the complaint states.
Brown, 59, of Chicago, is charged with conspiring with alleged Black Disciple member TERRENCE MORRIS, 48, of Chicago, to distribute heroin in March 2019. During the investigation, law enforcement carried out a court-authorized search of a South Side storage unit rented by Brown and discovered 13 kilograms of cocaine, which were individually wrapped in sealed packages, the charges state.
January, 27, of Chicago, is accused of trafficking three handguns in the summer of 2019. He had previously been convicted of a felony firearm offense in the Circuit Court of Cook County and was not lawfully allowed to possess the guns. Several other convicted felons were also charged with unlawfully possessing firearms, including rifles and a shotgun furnished to members of the Black Disciples.
Charged with federal drug offenses are: McMiller; Knight; Brown; Morris; ALONZO BROOKS, 49, of Chicago; SHONGO COLLIER, 48, of Riverdale; LAWRENCE DRAUS, 41, of Crestwood; FREDRICK STEWART, 47, of Chicago; TONY REDDING, 44, of Chicago; RAMONT AUSTIN, 39, of Chicago; FRANKLIN REDDING, 46, of Chicago; BARRY MICKIEL, 49, of Chicago; BRIAN BILLUPS, 40, of Plainfield; JOSEPH ANDERSON, 43, of Chicago; and SANTANA STEELE, 36, of Chicago.
Charged with federal firearm offenses are January; ANTOINE MCDANIELS, 44, of Chicago; DEANDRE MARTIN, 32, of Chicago; WILLIE ALFORD, 45, of Chicago; TRAVIS WASHINGTON, 24, of Chicago; WENDELL KEMP, 55, of Chicago; and SHAWN HUDSON, 48, of Harvey.
Charged with bank fraud is JOHN ECTOR, 47, of Chicago.
The public is reminded that charges contain only accusations and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office holds gun offenders accountable through Project Guardian and Project Safe Neighborhoods – the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction strategies. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has deployed the Guardian and PSN programs to attack a broad range of violent crime issues facing the district, including by prosecuting individuals who illegally possess firearms. Additional federal law enforcement resources were recently allocated to Chicago under Operation Legend, which will enhance existing efforts by federal law enforcement agencies working in conjunction with state and local law enforcement offices to fight violent crime.