After a one month investigation, three search warrants were simultaneously executed on July 1st at two locations in Chicago and one in Oak Lawn. The two Chicago locations included a residence on the 2800 block of N. Natoma, and Asiel Food and Restaurant located on the 3700 block of W. Chicago Ave. The third location was a residence on the 9900 block S. Massasoit in Oak Lawn. The investigation involved the combined efforts of the River Forest Police Department, the Chicago Police Department, the Porter County Sheriff’s Office (Indiana), the Cook County Regional Organized Crime Task Force, the Cook County State Attorneys Office, Walgreens Organized Crime Task Force and CVS Regional Crime Investigations.
The investigation was initiated by River Forest Police after a Retail Theft offender provided information on a large scale fencing operation on the 3700 block of W. Chicago Ave. in Chicago. The fencing operation would purchase stolen retail merchandise for approximately 10 cents on the dollar. Further investigation revealed that some merchandise was resold in the Chicago region, while tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of stolen products was shipped to at least two locations in New York on a weekly basis. Also, records were located that indicated that some money netted from the sale of the stolen property was electronically transferred to the country of Jordon.
With the assistance of the Chicago Police Department’s Asset Forfeiture Unit and Intelligence Section, the investigation was furthered in the areas of logistical, technological, and financial investigative support. These Units target businesses and organizations, like Asiel Food and Restaurant, who masquerade as legitimate businesses. These fencing operations become a haven for other types of illegal activity for both residential and business districts, which in turn negatively affects the quality of life of residents and puts them at a higher risk for being crime victims. Also, these types of fencing operations further the financial losses experienced by retail establishments such as Walgreens and CVS.
Yacoub Khalifeh, 54-years old of the 2800 block of N. Natoma in Chicago, was charged with Class X Felony Organizer of a Financial Crime Enterprise; Wael Jarwan, 43-years old of the 2800 block of N. Natoma in Chicago, was charged with Class 3 Felony Theft; and Najeh Hamad, 44-years old of the 9900 block of Massasoit in Oak Lawn, was charged with Misdemeanor Theft.
Also, the investigation netted the recovery of approximately $19,000 worth of stolen retail property, and the seizure of $14,000 USC and 5 vehicles.
“This investigation was an excellent example of the cooperation and teamwork needed by multiple law enforcement agencies and private companies to take down this large scale illegal operation. This case demonstrates how an everyday crime, such as Retail Theft, can evolve into a very profitable continuing criminal enterprise, where the illegal profits are not only used locally or regionally but are sent across the globe.” –Deputy Chief James O’Shea
The public is reminded that a signed complaint is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.