Carpentersville man found guilty of possessing $1.6M of cocaine for drug cartel tied to Lake in the Hills warehouse
A Carpentersville man was found guilty Wednesday of possessing $1.6 million worth of cocaine that prosecutors say was shipped to a Lake in the Hills warehouse on behalf of a Mexican drug cartel.
McHenry County Judge Michael Coppedge announced the verdict Wednesday, after listening to three days of testimony in the trial of 44-year-old Juan F. Sanchez-Cacho. The man ultimately was convicted of possession with intent to deliver cocaine and possession of a controlled substance.
Sanchez-Cacho was arrested Sept. 20, 2018, as he attempted to leave a Trinity Drive warehouse where police had been conducting surveillance. Three days earlier, Sanchez-Cacho unknowingly met with an undercover Chicago police officer and offered to sell him 30 kilograms of cocaine for $30,000 per kilos, witnesses testified. Another man, 21-year-old Ivan Moreno-Sanchez, also attended the meeting and later was arrested in connection with the large-scale drug investigation.
Although officers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Chicago Police Department, Lake in the Hills Police Department and Kane County Sheriff's Office all assisted in the investigation, none filed a report based on the Sept. 17, 2018, meeting with the undercover officer, Sanchez-Cacho's attorney Special Public Defender Thomas Carroll said.
"The fact that no one wrote a report is incredulous," Carroll said.
In September 2018, Moreno-Gollegos and Sanchez-Cacho were staying together at a Carpentersville home that was provided to them by a Mexican drug cartel, Moreno-Gollegos testified Wednesday.
The 21-year-old said the cartel forced him to travel to the U.S. in 2017 and provided him with a home and a red Toyota. Moreno-Gollegos was not sure Wednesday whether Sanchez-Cacho also worked for the cartel, he said.
On the morning of Sept. 20, 2020, a third man, who was not charged, asked the men to help unload goods that would be arriving at the warehouse in a semitruck, Moreno-Gollegos said.
Although Moreno-Gollegos testified Wednesday he didn't specifically know what he was unloading, he said he knew he was working on behalf of the cartel.
Police followed the men to Lake in the Hills where they saw Sanchez-Cacho use a key to unlock one of the warehouse doors, prosecutors said.
Sanchez-Cacho remained at the warehouse with the third man while Moreno-Gollegos left in the red Toyota. Officers stopped the vehicle shortly after and discovered 16 bricks of cocaine hidden within compartments inside a cooler and speaker box in the trunk of the Toyota.
Moreno-Gollegos accepted a plea deal in March and was sentenced to 16 years in prison for possession with intent to deliver cocaine.
Similar items, including cars with man-made storage compartments in the floor, were located inside the warehouse, prosecutors said. Although investigators found no drugs inside the warehouse, they arrested Sanchez-Cacho based on his alleged involvement with planning the cocaine transfer, prosecutors said.
"The defendant was fully aware of what was taking place," McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Brette Dunbar said during her closing argument Wednesday.
Carroll, however, questioned why police arrested and later released the third man whose name was written on a warehouse clipboard that contained a MoneyGram check dated Sept. 20.
"Yet amazingly, (he) is not charged," Carroll said.
Carroll also criticized officers for not attempting to stop the semitruck after it left the warehouse.
"A semi is somehow lost ..." Carroll said. "Somehow we're just going to let it go and not worry about it."
Sanchez-Cacho remained at the McHenry County Jail Wednesday evening without bond. He is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 16 in McHenry County court.