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Local News

State's attorney: 'Sweeping arrests' of suspected Joliet gang members, drugs and weapons seized

JOLIET - Sixteen people were slammed with drug and weapon charges and police launched a massive sweep Tuesday morning to round them all up.

The joint investigation by the Joliet Police Narcotics Unit, Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives netted two tables full of bullets and 31 weapons ranging from handguns that could easily fit in a pocket to a military rifle designed to be mounted on a Humvee. ATF Special Agent Celinez Nunez said other weapons seized during the 18-month investigation were being examined at the crime lab for ballistics comparisons.

Over 100 law enforcement officers also seized over 200 grams of cocaine and other drugs during the sweep, which targeted members of the Vice Lords and Gangster Disciples street gangs, Nunez said.

Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow noted five suspects have been charged with being armed habitual criminals based on their previous records.

"We pulled out all the stops. Any charges that fit we (filed)," Glasgow said. "We're going to try and put these people away for as long as possible."

Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton said the sweeps began at 6 a.m. and 12 people were taken into custody over the next five hours — both in Joliet and outside Will County.

"Whenever there's gangs, guns and drugs, violence often accompanies that," Benton said.

"Multijurisdictional sweeps like the one conducted today greatly expand the ability of law enforcement to defuse gang activity while taking illegal weapons off our streets," Glasgow said. "We work closely with our local police agencies on a daily basis to keep our neighborhoods safe, but the participation of federal agencies like ATF puts significant additional resources and manpower into the mix and lets drug dealers and gun traffickers know without question that we mean business."

The following face criminal charges in connection with the operation:

• Cesar Zavala was charged with delivery of a controlled substance, armed habitual criminal, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and unlawful sale of firearms. His bond was set at $750,000

• Charles Jelley was charged with armed habitual criminal, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and unlawful sale of firearms. His bond was set at $300,000.

• Jay Nink was charged with armed habitual criminal, gun running and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. His bond was set at $1 million.

• Jessica Franchini was charged with delivery of a controlled substance. Her bond was set at $500,000.

• James Talmadge was charged with delivery of a controlled substance. His bond was set at $500,000.

• Jose Sanchez was charged with delivery of a controlled substance. His bond was set at $750,000.

• Andrew Knox was charged with two counts of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. His bond was set at $700,000.

• Anthony Alexander was charged with armed habitual criminal. His bond was set at $500,000.

• Tramelle Beverly was charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. His bond was set at $200,000.

• Germaine Burton was charged with the unlawful sale of a firearm. His bond was set at $30,000.

• Donald Murphy was charged with delivery of a look-alike substance. His bond was set at $50,000.

• James Kantowski was charged with delivery of a controlled substance. His bond was set at $200,000.

• Nilda Figueroa was charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and two counts of unlawful sale or delivery of A firearm. Her bond was set at $200,000.

• Josephus Gaston was charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. His bond was set at $200,000.

• Joseph Jayko was charged with unlawful sale or delivery of A firearm. His bond was set at $20,000.

• Nicholas McGee was charged with two counts of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. His bond was set at $150,000.

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