Drug trafficking probe nets arrests

Drug trafficking probe nets arrests

DANVILLE — Two Texas men and another from Illinois have been charged in Vermilion County Circuit Court after a lengthy investigation into cannabis trafficking.

Hermilio Martinez, 40, and Alberto Chavez, 39, both of Donna, Texas, and Jonathan Cruz, 27, of Strawn, were charged Tuesday in circuit court with possession of cannabis and possession of cannabis with the intent to deliver. The charges are Class X felonies with enhanced sentencing guidelines of 15 to 60 years for delivery and 30 to 120 years for trafficking and a maximum fine of $400,000.

All three are being held at the Vermilion County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond and have preliminary hearings scheduled for May 17.

The Vermilion County Metropolitan Enforcement Group conducted the investigation that resulted in the arrest of four suspects, including Martinez, Chavez and Cruz, at 12:20 p.m. Monday at two residences in Vermilion County. Agents seized about 126 pounds of cannabis, 16 firearms, $19,442 in cash and two vehicles. The fourth arrested, Luis Alberto Plascencia, 27, of Urbana, was released pending additional charges, according to VMEG Director Lisa Crowder.

Following up on additional information in the investigation, another suspect was arrested at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in Champaign County.

That suspect, Raul Garza Jr., 39, of Hope, Ark., was attempting to deliver cannabis from Texas to Champaign on a charter bus. He was arrested with about 164 pounds of cannabis on him.

Crowder said Garza's case is being handled in Champaign County.

She said VMEG is not releasing the location of the residences where the arrests were made in Vermilion County. She said the investigation is ongoing, and agents are working toward more arrests.

"The VMEG agents worked extremely hard putting this case together, and we had a lot of assistance from a lot of agencies that we really appreciated," she said.

Illinois State Police, the Vermilion and Champaign county sheriff's departments and the Danville, Champagn and Urbana police departments assisted in the investigation.