600 pound pot seizure biggest ever in South Elgin

South Elgin police uncovered about 600 pounds of marijuana Friday, marking the biggest marijuana bust in the police department’s 50-year history. It all started with an anonymous tip from a confidential police source. South Elgin police intercepted a large shipment of marijuana during a Friday evening traffic stop that — at about 100 pounds — would have been the largest pot seizure in the department’s 50-year history. But that stop led police to an apartment in the 0-100 block of Ione Drive, where officers found about 500 pounds more, Sgt. Mike Doty said.

In the end, Claudio Ochoa, 46, of the 0-100 block of Ione Drive, was charged with one count of manufacture/delivery of marijuana and one count of marijuana possession. And it all started with an anonymous tip police received at 7:20 p.m. Friday, in which the tipster described the car carrying the marijuana and the direction in which it was going. Police do not know where Ochoa was headed or from where he’d come. Police trailed the 2006 Nissan Maxima and Ochoa, driving solo, started following too closely behind the vehicle in front of him at Stearns Road and McLean Boulevard, Doty said. That gave police a reason to stop him.

“Our officers are very aggressive enforcing traffic laws and we will make every effort to stop every type of narcotic trafficking, regardless of the type of narcotic they’re transporting,” Doty said. Ochoa agreed to let police search his car and police found about 100 pounds of marijuana bundled up in cubes, sitting inside the trunk, Doty said. Officers arrested Ochoa, who also agreed to let police search his home 1½ miles away on Ione Drive, police said. That was when they found approximately 500 pounds of marijuana in his house, similarly packaged — nobody was home at the time, Doty said.

In the end, police seized about 600 pounds of marijuana, worth about $480,000 on the street. Ochoa’s bail was set at $250,000, which means he needs $25,000 to get out of jail while his case is pending — he was unable to post bond and remained in the Kane County lockup Monday. He is due in court Aug. 17 at the Kane County Judicial Center. If found guilty of the manufacture/delivery charge, Ochoa could spend between six and 30 years in prison.

Meanwhile, Friday’s seizure marks the largest marijuana bust in the police department’s history, trumping the then-record of 82 pounds set last December. In that case, Walter Kwiatek, 70, of California, shipped the marijuana to himself, using the address of a South Elgin warehouse. Last month, he was sentenced to four years in prison and must also pay a $25,000 drug fine as part of his guilty plea to felony unlawful possession with intent to deliver. The village’s allure to large-scale marijuana operations baffles police. “I can’t really say why they’re picking South Elgin,” Doty said.

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