Police: Drug probe led to food store

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.

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Comments

Great

Great job EPD

28 fewer individuals

28 fewer individuals malingering about and loitering as they contirbuted nothing productive to society. Nice work EPD.

Who Owns Ramy Foods?

 Curious who owns this Ramy's Foods place and if they will face any penalties.  
 
if you look at the daily police reports on a regular basis, it appears that this place is the site of numerous assaults, robberies, etc....  This place needs to be shut down ASAP. 

Why shut it down?

Anonymous wrote: if you look at the daily police reports on a regular basis, it appears that this place is the site of numerous assaults, robberies, etc....  This place needs to be shut down ASAP.

It has long been a thorn in the neighborhood's side - difficult traffic patterns when cars double park to "run in" for cigarettes (especially in the mornings), or stop to chat with the sidewalk crew that seems to be there all day, and then the after-school crowds that gather as they pass by from Kingsley, Haven, or ETHS.  Often difficult to access the door through the people loitering on the walk and often asking for 'change' or a couple of bucks for cigarettes.
Casual observation when the EPD cruises past, and almost everyone in front disappears, either into the store or around to the side of the building. The police reports are NOT all directly related to the store itself, but appear to have Ramy's as the central point.
While Ramy's has been a gathering place for quite a few of the less savory elements of the area, it does provide a needed function as it is the only semi-convenience food market in a very underserved grocery area.
I don't have an alternative, I wish I did, as it used to be a more or less reasonably priced place to grab a few groceries when going to the Jewel or Dominicks was not possible.

Ramy's apparently defrauding state

Charon,  Why shut it down?  They are running a LINK card fraud scheme, for one.  The police press release mentions this.  But it doesn't indicate if they are pursuing charges on this front.
I sympathize with the paucity of alternatives in the neighborhood--although what about the Walgreens down the street?--but it doesn't appear to be a legitimate business according to the story.

Agreed, but

I agree, there should be repercussions for not only the drug dealing, but also the fraud. I do hope the police and state will pursue charges for that as well as being a source for drugs of all sorts.  I do know that the street activity level has dropped (or moved) and that length of Simpson, from Green Bay to Dodge, has returned to a somewhat quieter bit of road.
The Walgreen's, while convenient and cheaper does not have the selection and fresh produce that Ramy's does, and unfortuately there are some in the neighborhood that do use the place as a primary source for groceries, even with the inflated prices.
As I said- I wish there was an alternative to losing yet another a long-time neighborhood business, but I'm afraind that no other small grocery-type business would be interested in either the area or taking over a problematic location.
 

Benefit of the doubt

Maybe the owners of Ramy's dropped a dime on the scheme and cooperated with the investigation?  In another report, the store employees were allegedly coerced by the drug dealers.

Good job indeed,

although I have been waiting this to happen for a long time.  Police must have had their work made easier in the past few months; I drive through here daily and had noticed the drug dealers had become particularly brazen in doing their business.  A week or ten days ago as I drove by I couldn't help but notice that there were three transactions taking place simultaneously, and several apparent wannabe customers in waiting.

Thank You!

It felt like a ghost town west of Asbury this afternoon,lets keep up the great work Officers.

I'm Just Sayin'

With the way the economy is and the lack of opportunities available shutting down another business on the West side of  Evanston is no solution.
What is need and has been needed here is real economic development.
Evanston is famous for running it's best minority talent out of town while giving opportunities to individuals who ransack viable programs for their own personal gains, cash in and leave the community to people like this.
This is a cause and effect result. Before it was Ramy's it was Flemmings. The Flemmings and the Averys ran honest and credible buisnesses but lack of support and time made them sell out.
I was an original incorporator of the original ECDC at 19 years old. Over the years I was forced to watch while what was supposed to be a community development corporation became a scandel ridden farce and a profiteering scheme. And look at the minority business community now. It's been gutted and where viable businesses once existed now looks like the Westside of Chicago on a smaller scale.
And the shame of it all is that some of the best talent (like myself) because of a lack of opportunity has been run out of town only to be replaced by strangers to the point that what was once my community looks like a foreign land under the disguise of a black mayor never the less so the head was looking great while the feet suffered from gout.
Mayor Tisdahl is a good person she is accountable and she cares but the town needs the kind of attention that only an honest concerted economic development effort can accomplish by a team of people who truly understand what it was like to have a community that thrived and cares.
We need to bring back as much of the talent that the city developed through it's excellent educational system, not turn it over to people who have different ideas.
I for one would be willing to return to help if the opportunity presented itself and I have know for years before the problem manifested that it was coming and told the administration in 1972 as a young college student that this was going to happen and don't feel very good about being right.
ENOUGH!
 
 

Okay One Store

Here's the thing ,  okay yeah They got one store in Evanston ,  it happens to be in a bad neighborhood what a surprise .  But think for a minute  it happens to all the time in rich or middle class quiet neighborhoods ,  places that you wouldn't even think twice about looking at Now that's a thought.
So they arrested 28 people & nobody thought there is always more back up to take the place of the people that are in jail now?  If Ramy Food Store is in fact doing all these REALLY BAD things with Drug's , Selling Drug's  using the LINK card on over charging for Food , Giving Money , Keeping Money ,  So Fourth Blah ,Blah  ETC..  Which we have never heard of that before.
The Million Dollar Question why is Ramy still open to abuse the State's Money. Why is there No Sign in front of this store , " Hey Kids Stay Away This Is Bad Store We Sell Drug's , Someone might be walking around with a Gun & Oh Yeah Bring that LINK card so we can take you for all you got !
There's so many stores that do this everyday , With the Drug's , Money , and Using of the Link Card One down a Million more to go . 
If the City Of Evanston wanted to do something , Why don't they put nice food stores , little clothing stores , a place where you can go wash your clothes , maybe a starbucks to , I'm sure people that live in this area would love to go to a clean store to buy food or nice clothing place or even a hot cup of joe sit & read .
That would make Simpson Street look so nice . Look at all that empty land , Seems like someone is scared to even try to build anything there why & why not . Yeah they made a Bust Okay ,  we got move forward  &  now make a change and improve this neighborhood. I just bought a house & live in this neighborhood & Love it . Boo Yaw Baby ;)
 

A Starbucks will solve the problem?

"But think for a minute  it happens to all the time in rich or middle class quiet neighborhoods" - What happens? Drug dealing in the open? Shootings? Robberies? Things like this don't happen because it is not tolerated in "rich middle class, quiet neighborhoods". Plain and simple. The "No snitching" policy, that many subscribe to, is responsible.  
"So they arrested 28 people & nobody thought there is always more back up to take the place of the people that are in jail now?"-  Of course, we all know others will take their place. It's just a matter of time. Someone, somewhere, right now is thinking that they can do it better. They believe they are smarter than those who got caught. They will be out there. Maybe not at Ramy's, but somewhere soon. Always fresh faces!
"The Million Dollar Question why is Ramy still open to abuse the State's Money. Why is there No Sign in front of this store , " Hey Kids Stay Away This is a bad place..."- Get ready to spend your million. As you are well aware, Ramy's Food Store is not concerned in the least bit with the personal safety of those in and out of the store. It's all about the money. Ramy's, the dealers, and the buyers all act together.Everyone ends up getting what they want. Understand?
"Why don't they put nice food stores , little clothing stores , a place where you can go wash your clothes , maybe a starbucks to"  Well sir, some have. You remember the several restaurants that tried to make it just down the street? Recently someone tried to open a vegan-healthy food eatery and it went over like a lead balloon. It lasted about a year. As much as you and others would like businesses to be forced to open in unprofitable locations, it's just not going to happen. This includes Starbucks. I'm quite sure they are not in the business of failing just to appease a small neighborhood group.
"Seems like someone is scared to even try to build anything there why & why not" - See above answer. It's not the fear of physical harm. It's the fear of loosing money. Simple economics.
 
 

Fresh

people in every neighborhood need jobs and fresh food......

maybe, collectively, we can mend the situation through community, growth, and independent businesses!!!!

drug dealing occurs primarily when all other doors of opportunity have been closed