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17 People Face Federal Charges In Operation Tragic Blow, Targeting Heroin And Cocaine Trade In Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago Police teamed up with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to put a dent in the city's heroin and cocaine trade.

Operation Tragic Blow began early last year, and included extensive undercover and covert surveillance operations. On Wednesday, authorities announced 17 people are now facing federal charges.

During the probe, law enforcement seized multiple kilograms of heroin and cocaine, including two kilograms of cocaine in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood, and two kilograms of heroin in a high-rise in the Buena Park neighborhood.

In addition to the 17 federal defendants, two others are facing charges in the state court system as a result of the investigation, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Facing federal charges are Yarnell Allen, 41, of Dolton; Ulises Avina, 32, of Chicago; Oscar Balderama, 42, of Chicago; Celestino Barahona-Serrano, 38, of Chicago; Diego Galeana-Gonzaga, 35, of Mexico; Margarito Galeana-Gomez, 36, of Mexico; Jose Gonzaga, 58, of Chicago; Rafael Medellin Jr., 32, of Chicago; Richard C. Rincon, 39, of Oak Lawn; Juan Rosas-Cabrera, 31, of Mexico; Sergio Sanchez-Chaves, 36, of Mexico; Francisco Sanchez-Yanez, 32, of Chicago; Antonio Segura, 39, of Oak Lawn; Jorge A. Valdez, 40, of Chicago; Virginia Vazquez-Perez, 37, of Chicago; Delvin Williams, 42, of Chicago; and Rafael Zarco-Picazo, 33 of Chicago.

Authorities said Zarco-Picazo sold distribution levels of cocaine to Jorge Valdez, who then sold it to customers. Those 14 kilograms of cocaine were found on Jan. 30 in Zarco-Picazo's Nissan Z sedan, which was parked outside a home in the 2300 block of North Menard Avenue, prosecutors said. The cocaine was packed into several bricks hidden behind a speaker console, prosecutors said.

The heroin was found in a high-rise in the 4200 block of North Marine Drive, prosecutors said. Galeana-Gomez and Gonzaga are accused of conspiring to sell nearly two kilograms of heroin to an undercover law enforcement and someone who was surreptitiously cooperating, prosecutors said.

On the afternoon of Sept. 17, 2020, Gonzaga tried to sell the heroin to the undercover officer and informant in the buildings' underground parking garage, prosecutors said. Gonzaga was arrested, and supplies to package the drugs were found in two 27th-floor units, prosecutors said.

Other transactions in which the defendants are accused include a two-kilogram cocaine deal on April 30, 2020 involving Segura and Allen behind a home in the 6100 block of South Talman Avenue in Chicago lawn, and a kilogram of heroin being distributed by Galeana-Gonzaga in two deliveries – 720 kilograms to Williams in an apartment building in west suburban Brookfield, and 280 grams to Vazquez-Perez in a vehicle in the 2900 block of North Cicero Avenue.

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