Drug dealer involved in deals worth $2 million near Oprah Winfrey's studio caught

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A reputed drug dealer charged with possession and intent to deliver cocaine was allegedly involved in drug deals worth at least $2 million, many taking place around Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Studios on the Near West Side.

Rickey Bell (aka "Rich," "Richey," and "Fat Boy") was charged in a federal criminal complaint Wednesday with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of five kilograms of cocaine, according to Sun-Times News Wire reports.

The complaint contained testimony from five confidential sources -- each indicted on drug conspiracy charges and hoping to get lesser sentences in exchange for their cooperation -- who detailed drug deals they allegedly made with Bell on several occasions. The deals often taking place in the area of the Harpo Studios at Carpenter and Washington streets.

One confidential sources said, according to the complaint, that on multiple occasions between late 2006 to early 2007, the source, who worked for a drug trafficking organization, was instructed to deliver loads of cocaine to Bell. For each of the meetings, the source said they met Bell near Harpo Studios, or on some other occasions near Menard and Diversey on the Northwest Side.

For each of the approximately 10 meetings, according to the complaint, the source delivered between 10 and 30 kilograms of cocaine to Bell. For about half of those deliveries, Bell gave the source bags with cash payments.

Another source said that from 2004 to 2007, they delivered loads of between 15 to 20 kilograms of cocaine to Bell. By 2006, the source would deliver about 50 kilograms every few months, typically near Harpo Studios or a tire shop on Jefferson Street in the West Loop.

A third confidential source told agents they had delivered cocaine to Bell approximately 15 to 20 times from 2006 to 2007, each time delivering between 20 to 30 kilograms, and over time as much as 50 kilograms.

The source told agents Bell often drove a minivan to meet the source in the area of Harpo Studios, as well as on the Near North Side near Division Street and North Avenue.

Two other confidential drug suppliers related similar stories, according to the complaint.

As part of the investigation, the DEA recovered a number of ledger-type documents, consisting of records maintained in a Palm Pilot and a Yahoo! E-mail account. Based on information provided by the sources, the ledgers reflect, among other things, narcotics deliveries made to and cash payments collected from various wholesale customers.

For example, the complaint says, the Palm Pilot ledger reflects deliveries totaling approximately 60 kilograms of cocaine in or around the summer of 2006 to one person at a price of about $17,000 per kilogram.

During that same approximate time frame, the ledger reflects payments made by that same person totaling about $635,000. Additionally, between late 2006 to early 2007, the Palm Pilot ledger reflects deliveries totaling approximately 45 kilograms of cocaine and payments of at least $900,000.

Court information for Bell was not immediately available from the U.S> Attorney's office Wednesday afternoon.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mark Bieganski published on August 19, 2009 1:42 PM.

Dr. Oz: I call her 'Ms. Winfrey' -- and what he really thinks about Oprah was the previous entry in this blog.

Whitney Houston kicks off premiere of Oprah Winfrey's new season is the next entry in this blog.

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