Twelve men from the Galesburg, Illinois area face drug charges associated with allegedly trafficking marijuana through the region for 20 years. Federal and state authorities announced the drug charges two weeks ago.
The drug arrests are the result of a law enforcement operation entitled "Operation Western Wind." The drug trafficking investigation began four years ago but law enforcement officials would not comment on whether the operation was a part of a larger one, where the drugs originated or the identity of the alleged trafficking operation's leader.
The twelve men were arrested for allegedly distributing more than 2,200 pounds of marijuana in the Knox County area, and each individual faces a single count of conspiracy. If convicted on the charges, each individual faces up to 10 years in prison.
The men were arrested in Knox, Warren, Fulton and McLean counties and appeared in federal court in Peoria two weeks ago. The indictment of the men revealed little information about the alleged conspiracy except that it involved at least 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and lasted for 17 years. The 1,000 kilogram amount is a statutory requirement that allows for tougher sentences. It is believed the amount does not represent the total amount the men allegedly handled.
According to federal prosecutors additional drug charges will be brought in the future concerning the alleged drug ring and Operation Western Wind will also continue. Federal attorneys say it took law enforcement, "a couple of years" to help put the case together and those who were arrested are "major players" in a "significant" drug ring.
Source: pjstar.com, "Twelve accused of conspiracy in Knox County pot bust," Andy Kravetz, Feb. 9, 2012