Evanston police say 28 people have been arrested in a drug investigation that also uncovered alleged drug dealing at a local grocery store.

Ramy’s Foods. (Cook County Assessor’s Office file photo)

Police Commander Tom Guenther says officers learned that several people were operating a drug market from Ramy’s Foods at 1723 Simpson St. In addition, Guenther said, employees of the store were conducting fraudulent transations with state LINK cards in which cardholders falsified food purchases and then split the cash received with store employees.

The six month investigation, dubbed “Operation Hard Swipe” involved a variety of government agencies including Northbrook and Wilmette police, county sheriff’s officers, county state’s attorney’s investigators and the federal department of agriculture.

Guenther says members of the Evanston Police Neighborhood Enforcement Team spearheaded the effort that targeted gang members and street-level open air drug markets.

The officers say they made 64 undercover drug buys, many near churches, parks and schools, which make the sales felonies.

Sixteen people were arrested in a street sweep and execution of four search warrants last Thursday that Guenther said led to the seizure of 26.6 grams of crack cocaine, 10.8 grams of heroin, 18.1 grams of ecstacy, 26.6 grams of MDMA and 254.75 grams of cannabis.

Several people face a variety of charges from the investigation. They include:

  • Harold C. Vernor, 40, 1827 Laurel Ave., Evanston, felony possession of cannabis and five counts of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.
  • Christopher Lawson, 23, 7648 N. Paulina, Chicago, delivery of a lookalike substance.
  • Dejuan A. Blackwell, 19, 1824 Grey Ave., Evanston, delivery of a controlled substance and unlawful use of a weapon.
  • Earl E. Arthurs, 31, 1811 Brown Ave., Evanston, possession of ammunition without a firearms owner identification card.
  • Darrel D. Luce, 44, 1641 Fowler Ave., Evanston, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and possession of ammunition without a firarms owner identification card
  • Towan D. Jackson, 22, 1641 Fowler Ave., Evanston, possession of cannabis with intent to deliver.

Police say the following individuals were arrested on charges of delivery of a controlled substance:

  • Lori Osborne, 47, 9229 Lawler, Skokie.
  • Darryl L. Verner, 46, 1827 Laurel, Evanston.
  • Michael Atkins, 41, 1165 N. Milwaukee, Chicago.
  • Darcy Richburg, 23, 7654 N. Sheridan, Chicago.
  • Erica L. Barton, 22, 2016 Grant, Evanston.
  • Errol Kelly, 27, 7621 N. Sheridan, Chicago.
  • Albert E. Norman, 18, 8301 Kildare, Skokie.
  • Justin Parks, 17, 1810 Church St., Evanston.
  • Maurice Alston, 27, 713 Seward Ave., Evanston.
  • Blake Ross, 17, 2320 Greenwood, Evanston.

In addition the following individuals were arrested on charges of delivery of cannabis:

  • Freddie J. Stanley, 22, 4110 W. Oakton, Skokie.
  • Jason D. Powell, 22, 1000 Maple Ave., Evanston.
  • Ronald Davis, 20, 1460 Dewey Ave., Evanston.
  • Darrell Warren, 21, 7747 Tripp, Skokie.
  • Evan Spaulding, 20, 820 Judson Ave., Evanston.
  • Shaiking Mison Mathis, 24, 8811 N. Washington, Niles.
  • LaSean Vaughters, 21, 1125 Fowler, Evanston.
  • Darius Morales, 9128 Bennett, Skokie.

The following were charged with possession of cannabis:

  • Michael B. Smart, 29, 2609 W. Greenleaf, Chicago.
  • Devane K. Arthurs, 23, 1811 Brown Ave., Evanston.
  • Jason O. Pinnock, 22, 1612 Darrow Ave., Evanston.

Police say they also had planned to charge Leslie Calvin, of 135 Callan Ave., in Evanston with delivery of a controlled substance as part of the investigation, but he was shot to death while driving his car on Ridge Avenue on July 4. No charges have been filed yet in that homicide.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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