A man arrested by Forest Park police on a litany of charges last week asserted himself as a major player in the drug market and after finding roughly 12 pounds of cocaine in his apartment, authorities don’t believe he was bluffing.
“If this guy’s got kilos, he’s got connections,” Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas said.
Miguel Pineda, 33, was taken into custody April 9 following a brief chase through Forest Park and into Berwyn where police discovered the suspect hiding in the closet of a second-floor apartment. With a history of alleged violence and missed court dates, a circuit court judge Saturday ordered Pineda held on $3 million cash.
According to authorities, Pineda was stopped shortly after 7 p.m. after he failed to use his turn signal near the intersection of Roosevelt and Maple streets. The patrolling officer, Dan Miller, also discovered that the registration for the 1999 Audi he was driving belonged to a 1998 Jeep.
Pineda allegedly pulled to the side of the road, but while fumbling through his wallet for his drivers’ license, put the car into gear and took off along Roosevelt Road. The suspect jumped a curb and nearly struck several children as he turned south onto Clinton Avenue, according to police. Miller continued to follow the vehicle, but turned off his emergency lights and slowed down until eventually spotting the car in a parking lot at 1227 Harlem Ave. in Berwyn. The driver’s door was left open and the car was empty, according to Miller’s written report.
Having radioed for backup, Miller was joined by several other Forest Park officers as well as authorities from Berwyn. Police searched the abandoned car and inside of a gym bag allegedly found a brick of cocaine that weighed in at more than 500 grams. The registration on the vehicle led authorities to a nearby basement apartment at 1224 Maple Ave. In the apartment police discovered several more large bricks of cocaine, all of which totaled more than 5,500 grams, or roughly 12 pounds.
“As we walked towards the front of the basement apartment, I could smell a strong musky-sour chemical odor, which I know to be consistent with the smell of cocaine, based on my training and experience,” Miller said in his report of the incident.
According to authorities, more than $149,800 in cash was discovered in the apartment, along with numerous solvents and packaging materials used to cut and distribute narcotics. Police also found a loaded .22 caliber pistol equipped with a silencer.
Meanwhile, two neighboring tenants from a second-floor apartment came downstairs to tell police that they heard noises coming from a bedroom closet in their apartment and were afraid that someone may be hiding there. Pineda was discovered in the closet, according to police.
“‘Congratulations, you don’t even know, you’re going to get a promotion for this,'” Pineda allegedly told Miller upon his arrest. “‘I’ve been on America’s Most Wanted.'”
Pineda, who uses several aliases, had a number of outstanding warrants. In December 2007 he failed to appear in court on charges related to an alleged home invasion in Naperville. In that incident, Pineda and three others are accused of forcing their way into the home of an elderly couple in November 2002. They allegedly tortured the couple for hours before fleeing with $500,000 worth of jewelry, cash, valuable stamps, coins and an estimated 100 guns. Authorities believe the assailants targeted the man, who is a collector.
“He’s got an extensive criminal history and an extensive violent history,” Naperville Det. Nick Libereo, who investigated the incident, said.
Pineda was arrested for his alleged role in that incident in March 2005 in Chicago and posted $100,000 cash bond in December. At the time, said Libereo, Pineda had roughly a dozen rifles and several pounds of marijuana in his possession.
According to a Daily Herald report, Pineda made his monthly court dates in the case but had been missing since late 2007. Should Pineda post the $3 million bond on the Forest Park charges, he still would not be released because he violated the conditions of his previous bond, said Libereo.
During an interview with the owner of the Berwyn property where Pineda was arrested, authorities learned the suspect rented the apartment Feb. 27, 2008, using a false name and social security number. The only name on the lease agreement, according to the property owner, was Yolanda Figueroa because the information provided by Pineda could not be verified through a credit check. The couple also had a baby with them when they moved in, according to the landlord.
Following his arrest, Pineda asked to speak with federal authorities from the Drug Enforcement Administration in an effort to cut a deal, according to Forest Park police. Two agents met with Pineda on April 10, at which time Pineda said he was the leader of the Latin Jiver Street Gang and was a mule for a cocaine cartel. Pineda told federal authorities he was in the process of having a tractor trailer outfitted to hide drugs and that he and his associates were sitting on $1.6 million that was to be used to purchase cocaine and marijuana in Austin, Texas, according to the department’s report.
The drugs discovered in his Berwyn apartment were being cut so that Pineda could increase his profits and cover the $1,000 per kilo he paid to transport the cocaine from Texas. His most recent shipment included 80 kilos, or 176 pounds, of cocaine, Pineda allegedly told federal authorities.
A spokesperson for the Chicago office of the DEA said Pineda will not face federal charges.
Pineda is facing three counts of manufacturing and delivering a controlled substance, three counts of possession, two counts of aggravated fleeing and eluding, and one charge for unlawful use of a weapon, in addition to several traffic offenses.
Figueroa had not been located as of April 14, but local police said they are looking for her.