Feds recover nearly 11 tons of marijuana, arrest 7 Agents monitored illegal cache carried on rail cars from Texas-Mexico border to Chicago Heights December 16, 2010|By Annie Sweeney, Tribune reporter As their plans to smuggle nearly 11 tons of marijuana into the Chicago area neared fruition, the alleged plotters talked of a celebration that would last two or three days, according to a federal complaint filed against them Thursday. In reality, six Union Pacific Railroad cars carrying the cache of illegal drugs from Mexico had been under 24-hour surveillance for several days by multiple law enforcement agencies, authorities said. Surveillance teams of federal agents were on board the train and also provided extra security at layovers as the marijuana made its way here over a five-day journey, authorities said. Once it arrived at its destination on Dec. 6 in Chicago Heights, investigators watched the warehouse with hidden video cameras and from the air as the marijuana was off-loaded. Seven men were charged with drug conspiracy for their alleged roles in the smuggling. Officials called the seizure the largest capture of marijuana in the Chicago area in the last decade and put its estimated value at about $22 million. The investigation was launched last month after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent discovered the marijuana bundled into sacks and camouflaged with a thick layer of red masonry dust on a train near a Texas border town. Authorities allowed the shipment to continue on to the Chicago Heights warehouse, where forklifts were used to move the bundled packages into a second storage facility, authorities said. The alleged dealers were nabbed red-handed, literally several suspects had the red dust on their clothes, authorities said. "This is an example of just plain old good-fashioned police work,'' said Gary Hartwig, special agent-in-charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's homeland security investigations in Chicago. Shipping records show the train cars were bound for a nonexistent company near Joliet, authorities said. In a call monitored by investigators last weekend as the operation neared its end, one cohort told Felipe de Jesus Magana-Campos, one of the seven now under arrest, that he was "resting," according to the complaint. Magana told him to "save your energy, and then go celebrate for two, three days, because you have lots to celebrate," the complaint said. On Thursday several federal agencies said it was they that had reason to celebrate with the arrests. "This is a great day for the good guys,'' said Jack Riley, special agent-in-charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Chicago. "This is the way it's supposed to work." firstname.lastname@example.org Feds recover nearly 11 tons of marijuana, arrest 7 - Chicago Tribune ----------------------------------------------------- The United States will soon be so filled with the Mexican drugs that poison American children you won't be able to tell the difference between the 2 countries.