MC couple charged in heroin ‘delivery’ case
CHICAGO — People wanting to purchase heroin in Chicago could dial a number, and the drugs would be sent to a location where they could be purchased.
And that’s exactly what a Michigan City couple did repeatedly for several months, according to federal prosecutors.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois on Tuesday announced that 35 people, including the La Porte County couple, are facing charges as part of a joint federal and state investigation into heroin and fentanyl trafficking.
Charged with narcotics offenses in one of several federal criminal complaints unsealed Tuesday were 31-year-old Jaclyn Rowley and 32-year-old Matthew Rosolik, according to federal prosecutors.
Sgt. Andrew Hynek, commander of the La Porte County Drug Task Force, said the pair were boyfriend and girlfriend, and were arrested Thursday at the home they shared in Michigan City.
The Drug Task Force started investigating the local case in August 2018, working in cooperation with the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force.
“We worked cooperatively with them,” Hynek said. “They initiated the investigation and we got the information for them to help get the indictments.”
The multi-year investigation, dubbed “Operation Road Rage,” led to the seizure of a kilogram of heroin, most of which contained fentanyl; approximately $100,000 in cash; five firearms; and four vehicles, according to federal prosecutors. Much of the alleged drug trafficking occurred in the West Garfield Park neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side.
Many of the defendants are charged with delivering heroin and fentanyl-laced heroin to customers in the Chicago area, with drivers dispatched to make deliveries after customers placed orders on a telephone hotline, prosecutors said.
Rowley and Rosolik were allegedly two of those customers.
“They were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin over 100 grams,” he said. “They were buying heroin in Chicago and bringing it back here to sell in La Porte County, we believe. They were arrested with quite a bit of heroin, nearly 100 grams.”
Criminal complaints unsealed in U.S. District Court in Chicago charge 22 defendants, many of whom were arrested last Thursday, with federal drug offenses. Thirteen others were charged in Illinois state complaints, and will appear in Cook County Criminal Court.
One of the criminal complaints describes a drug trafficking organization in which heroin hotline operators and dispatchers referred to themselves as “Sean.” Customers intending to purchase heroin and fentanyl-laced heroin called a designated number, the complaint states. The dispatchers then sent the organization’s many distributors to various West Side locations to conduct the drug deals, the complaint states.
Hynek said it “was almost like a business, with a command hierarchy from the top down to the local suspects who were farther down the chain. They had people who would get the heroin in Chicago and take it to the suburbs or into Indiana to redistribute. That is the role we believe the local suspects played.”
Undercover law enforcement officers disrupted the organization by conducting approximately 50 narcotics purchases after calling the Sean phones and meeting with distributors, according to the complaint.
In one instance, the complaint alleges, a customer suffered a drug overdose in May 2018 after receiving 1.13 grams of fentanyl-laced heroin. The man appeared to be unconscious when the deliveryman pulled him out of a vehicle and left him at a nearby bus stop, the complaint states. Chicago Fire Department personnel arrived and successfully revived the man, the complaint states.
Rowley and Rosolik allegedly bought heroin on multiple occasions by calling 24-year-old Michael Robinson of Country Club Hills, Illinois, according to the federal criminal complaint. Robinson is also facing federal drug conspiracy charges.
Rowley would make a call, tell Robinson how much money she had for heroin, and he would arrange the sale, the complaint states. Rosolik would then drive to the meeting place – sometimes an indoor Target parking lot and other times on a street for the transaction, prosecutors claim.
When first arrested by Chicago Police in August 2018, Rowley was found to have 145 small packets of heroin hidden in her bra, the complaint states.
She told police they had driven to Chicago two to three times a week for the last six months to a year, each time buying between $500 and $1,200 worth of narcotics, the complaint states. She said most of the heroin was delivered to an unnamed buyer in Indiana, and she would receive $100 or several packets of heroin for making the delivery, prosecutors allege.
The couple were released, but surveilled, and made two more heroin buys within a week of their arrest, prosecutors claim. After the second purchased, the La Porte County Drug Task Force was notified, and arrested them when they arrived at their home in the 1000 block of Coolspring Avenue in Michigan City, the complaint states.
Again, they found a large bundle inside Rowley’s bra, this one containing 95 packets of heroin, the complaint states. They allegedly told officers they made one to two trips per week to buy heroin for other people to sell.
Facing federal charges, Rowley and Rosolik were immediately taken into federal custody after their arrest in Michigan City, Hynek said. They were being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago.
The charges in the complaints carry maximum penalties of between 20 years and life imprisonment, according to federal prosecutors.