Federal marijuana distribution conspiracy charges were filed late this week against seven defendants arrested during what is believed to be the largest seizure ever of marijuana in the Chicago area - conservatively estimated at about 21,800 pounds, or nearly 11 tons. The drugs were packed into six railroad cars from Mexico that arrived at a warehouse in south suburban Chicago Heights earlier this month. The marijuana is estimated to have a value of about $22 million.
According to a 74-page affidavit border patrol officers in Eagle Pass, Texas, discovered that a Union Pacific train bound for Chicago Heights was carrying about 21,800 pounds of suspected marijuana and a month-long investigation ensued. The arrests and seizure followed this investigation using court-authorized wiretaps to intercept numerous telephone conversations in which several defendants discussed unloading, transporting and distributing the marijuana.
The marijuana distribution conspiracy carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment and a $4 million fine.