Wednesday 5 October 2011

Drug-dealing killer: Chicago cop stopped DEA investigation of me


high-level drug trafficker admits he was involved in three killings after a Chicago Police officer scuttled a federal investigation into his illegal activities in the mid-1990s, according to a recent court filing. Saul Rodriguez, who pleaded guilty last month to federal drug conspiracy charges, was an informant for Officer Glenn Lewellen for years. But Rodriguez told authorities he and Lewellen were also longtime partners in crime. They allegedly worked together to rip off other drug dealers, splitting millions of dollars in loot. Lewellen recruited Rodriguez as a police informant in early 1996. Rodriguez’s undercover name was “Bill Pager.” From 1996 to 2001, the Chicago Police Department paid him $807,000 for information that led to seizures of drugs and cash, prosecutors said. All the while Rodriguez was making cases for the police, however, he was committing crimes. And Lewellen repeatedly stepped in to keep Rodriguez out of jail, prosecutors said. Rodriguez’s statements to authorities are included in a 188-page document containing evidence prosecutors intend to present against Lewellen and other defendants who face trial in the same case. Rodriguez has agreed to testify against them. According to the document, Lewellen in mid-1996 persuaded the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to stop investigating Rodriguez after 154 pounds of marijuana were seized from a secret compartment in his Buick. Lewellen told the DEA its investigation would harm ongoing Chicago Police Department cases, prosecutors said. Lewellen, who joined the police force in 1986, retired in 2002 to become a homebuilder. But he still managed to obstruct a separate DEA investigation of Rodriguez, prosecutors said. In 2006, Lewellen warned Rodriguez not to speak to a drug courier whose phone was wiretapped, Rodriguez said. At the time, the DEA was investigating Rodriguez’s ties to a cocaine wholesaler, prosecutors said. Lewellen told Rodriguez he got the information from an “agent” who previously worked in Colombia, but didn’t say what agency was involved in the investigation, according to Rodriguez. As Lewellen was allegedly protecting Rodriguez from the DEA, Rodriguez was involved in the murders of three men, prosecutors said. Rodriguez has confessed to orchestrating the slayings in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Rodriguez has also told authorities he arranged for a friend to “escape” from a prison in Mexico in 2003. He said he met with the prison warden while on vacation in Mexico and promised to pay him a $250,000 bribe in exchange for his friend’s freedom. In addition to his career as a drug dealer, Rodriguez became involved in managing boxers and developing real-estate in Chicago and Nevada, records show. The document detailing Rodriguez’s statements to federal prosecutors, filed last month, provides new details about Rodriguez’s relationship with Lewellen. For example, Rodriguez said he bought Lewellen a Ford Crown Victoria equipped with a siren. Lewellen allegedly drove the car while posing as a legitimate cop during drug rip-offs, Rodriguez said. Rodriguez has told authorities that another Chicago Police officer participated in at least one rip-off, but he believes the officer is now deceased. The prosecution’s evidentiary document also provides more information about the three murders in which Rodriguez admits to having a role. Rodriguez said he persuaded Lewellen to frame Juan Luevano with a drug case in 1999. Luevano, who was dating Rodriguez’s former girlfriend, was released from jail after posting bond in the case. Rodriguez said he then met with a high-ranking Satan Disciples gang member who was in prison. The gang leader was angry Luevano was dating his wife, Rodriguez told authorities. The gang leader asked Rodriguez to find someone to “get” Luevano. So Rodriguez said he hired a high-school pal, Manuel Uriarte, to kill Luevano. Uriarte and Andres Flores allegedly shot Luevano to death in 2000 near his home in Cicero, prosecutors said. They’re charged with murder in the same federal drug conspiracy case. Rodriguez also admitted he arranged for the 2001 murder of Michael Garcia. Rodriguez said he acted at the request of a friend who suspected Garcia had killed his brother, prosecutors said. And Rodriguez said he was involved in the 2002 murder of Miguel De La Torre. Rodriguez said he arranged the kidnapping of De La Torre to scare him into providing information about the location of cocaine and money. Rodriguez said he hired Miguel Uriate and his brother Jorge Uriate to squeeze the information from De La Torre, a drug dealer. If De La Torre refused to talk, they agreed the Uriates would kill him, Rodriguez said. Rodriguez admitted he provided Uriate brothers with an electrical cord they used to strangle De La Torre in a garage. Jorge Uriate also faces murder charges in the same case. Lewellen, who is free on $1 million bail awaiting trial, is not charged with any of the killings.