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Old 12-14-2002, 12:43 PM   #1
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Would you like cocaine with that?

This Burger King is right near where I live!

Four charged with selling 'coke' at fast-food restaurant
By Dave Orrick Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
Posted on December 08, 2002

In what suburban officials say is one of the most brazen drug operations they've seen, four Lake County residents were jailed Saturday on charges they ran a cocaine ring and sold the product "to go" from the drive-through window of a Mundelein Burger King.

More than nine months of surveillance of the alleged operation culminated Friday night when authorities made a whopper of an undercover buy - one kilo of coke with an estimated street value of $300,000 - from the eatery's night manager, his wife and two former employees, authorities said Saturday.

"It was obviously going on every day," Mundelein Chief Raymond Rose said of the operation, which drew drug users and possibly dealers from throughout the Chicago region to the fast-food franchise on Midlothian Road south of Route 60/83.

According to Mundelein police and the anti-drug Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, here's how it worked:

Employees stashed various quantities of cocaine in clear plastic bags next to coffee creamers, milk and condiments in small refrigerators in the drive-through window area. "Customers" either phoned orders ahead or asked for certain employees at the drive-up ordering kiosk.

Without using code words, they specified an amount of cocaine over the microphone, pulled around to the window and paid the dealer-employee, who handed over the drugs in a Burger King paper bag.

Mundelein Sgt. Nick Poulos said quantities routinely sold that police documented ranged from less than a gram to more than an ounce. Friday night's kilogram deal went down in the parking lot, police say.

Throughout the course of the investigation, authorities were unable to reach the owner of the franchise, Poulos said.

Restaurant night manager Fabian Guzman, 21, his wife Niesha Molina, 24, his brother Raul Guzman, 20, all of 55 Shadow Lane in Mundelein, as well as Ricardo Sanchez, 36, of the first block of North Ridgemoor Avenue in Mundelein, were being held in Lake County jail Saturday after a judge ordered each held on $750,000 bond.

Each is charged with criminal drug conspiracy, a "super Class X" felony that carries a sentence range of 12 to 60 years in prison if convicted, as well as delivery and possession of a controlled substance.

Fabian Guzman worked the 4 p.m.-to-close shift as recently as Friday night, police said. Raul Guzman and Sanchez worked there until several months ago, when they were both fired for unrelated reasons.

Terry Lemming, director of Lake County MEG, and Rose said the investigation isn't over, and more arrests are likely.

Police first got wind of the alleged operation more than a year ago and began regular surveillance nine months ago, they said.

Over that time, Rose said "hundreds" of drive-through deals were observed, with customers ranging from casual users to suspected dealers.

Police declined to elaborate on evidence amassed by the surveillance.

Rose and Lemming also said other employees who may have known about the dealing and done nothing are being scrutinized.

A manager reached at the restaurant Saturday, who only identified herself as "Cindy" said, "No one in this store had any knowledge of this happening."

Lemming added that handling potentially deadly drugs next to food creates a potential public health hazard.

"When this guy touches cocaine, you think he washes his hands?" he said.

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Old 12-14-2002, 11:44 PM   #2
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