By Mary Wisniewski
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A total of 38 defendants in three states face federal narcotics charges as a result of an investigation into a Chicago-based heroin and cocaine trafficking ring, prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The investigation included an alleged supply network, as well as wholesale customers in Cincinnati and New York.
The probe included at least five alleged heroin purchases by an undercover Chicago police officer, wiretaps on 16 phones and seizures of narcotics and drug proceeds.
In one incident this month, the trafficking ring allegedly tried to transport about a pound of heroin hidden inside an SUV to Cincinnati.
After a traffic stop, a drug-sniffing dog found narcotics between the seats in the middle row of the vehicle, prosecutors said. Heroin also allegedly was found in a secret compartment in the roof.
Most of the defendants were arrested Tuesday and charged in complaints unsealed or filed Tuesday and Wednesday. Four Chicago and three Cincinnati defendants are fugitives. Those arrested include 20 in Chicago, four in Cincinnati and one in Laredo, Texas.
Most face penalties ranging from 10 years in prison to a maximum of life in prison and a $4 million fine.
Domingo Blount, 37, and Gabriel Bridges, 42, who allegedly ran the trafficking ring, and Arturo Flores, 35, who allegedly ran a conspiracy that supplied the ring, were among those arrested.
"The allegations are serious and I look forward to scrutinizing them carefully," said Flores' attorney, Darryl Goldberg.
(Editing by Jerry Norton)