CHICAGO – Authorities said Thursday they had arrested a man they described as a patriarch of a Chicago street-gang faction along with dozens of other alleged Gangster Disciples on drug charges.
Johnny “Goo” Herndon, 55, presided over open drugs markets on Chicago’s west side that generated more than $160,000 in revenue a month, U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon’s office said in a statement.
Since taking over the high-profile job, Fardon and other federal officials have come under pressure to do more to help stem persistent gang- and gun-driven violence in the nation’s third-largest city.
“Today’s takedown is another step in law enforcement’s Job One, and that is to build upon our decades’ long effort to wipe out drug, gangs, and gang factions,” Fardon said in the statement.
Federal and local authorities participated in Thursday’s operation. The suspects face multiple charges of possessing and distributing heroin and crack cocaine.
Prosecutors accuse Herndon of trafficking illegal drugs for more than two decades and of using the profits to invest in real estate. The charges say he has purchased more than 30 properties valued at more than $1.6 million.
The drug territory he controlled has been particularly lucrative because it hugs one of Chicago’s major highways, the Eisenhower Expressway, making access easier for both drug customers and suppliers, according to the statement.
Fardon, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and other officials planned to discuss the case at a news conference later Thursday.
There was no telephone listing for a Johnny Herndon in Chicago. Federal documents released Thursday did not include the name of a defense attorney.