A Franklin Park man and self-admitted Latin King gang member was arrested on the night of Aug. 31 after several officers, working a multi-jurisdictional taskforce, stopped him for minor vehicle violations and found over 300 grams of cocaine in his car.
Three officers from the West Suburban Drug and Gang Enforcement (WEDGE) spotted 36-year-old Kurt Thoemke on the 1600 block of Harlem Avenue, after he was spotted texting while driving and playing his car radio at a high volume. When the officers – from the North Riverside, Oak Park and Forest Park police departments -spoke with Thoemke, the driver had glassy eyes and slurred speech, a WEDGE press release states.
Thoemke told police he was driving a rental car – a white Nissan Versa with Arizona plates – and when he reached into the glove box to grab the rental agreement, officers observed “a baseball-sized bundle wrapped in black electrical tape … (the type of packaging consistent with that of narcotics.” Officers found an unspecified amount of cocaine in that bundle.
He was ordered out of the car, and after Berwyn police brought a K9 to search the vehicle, more drugs were found in the trunk and in the front passenger side door. In total, 142.5 grams of cocaine were discovered on the scene.
Thoemke was transported to Forest Park headquarters where he was booked on charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver between 100 and 400 grams of cocaine. A later search of the car revealed an additional 212 grams of cocaine inside the passenger door panel, bringing the total to 354.5 grams.
Forest Park detective Sgt. Mike Keating was one of the WEDGE officers on the scene and he mentioned that the drugs found in the trunk and the door were wrapped in the same fashion as the bundle found in the glove box. What’s more, he said, the car was likely used as a transport vehicle.
“It was more than likely used as a load vehicle,” Keating said. “It was rented one-way from Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix.”
“Anytime there’s a one-way rental there’s some type of suspicion, as opposed to [renting the car] both ways,” he added.
Keating said that investigators were still looking into whether Thoemke was part of a greater distribution operation.
The WEDGE taskforce consists of officers from police departments in Berwyn, Brookfield, Cicero, Elmwood Park, Forest Park, North Riverside, Oak Park, River Forest, Riverside and Stickney.
Thoemke, who told police he is a Latin King, is currently being held at Cook County Jail on $50,000 bond.