CHICAGO — Chicago’s top federal prosecutor on Thursday announced that 10 men connected to a longstanding West Side street gang now face conspiracy charges stemming from an alleged narcotics trafficking operation that served customers at three of the city’s open-air drug markets.

U.S. Attorney John Lausch said the 10 defendants — members or associates of the greater Four Corner Hustlers gang — were charged with federal drug conspiracy in connection with the since-disbanded open-air drug markets in the 3900 blocks of West Jackson and West Van Buren, as well as the market in the 4000 block of West Maypole.

According to the criminal complaint unsealed Thursday, investigators recovered well over 10 pounds of heroin and cocaine, as well as four rifles, four handguns, a MAC-10 submachine gun, a shotgun, more than 450 rounds of ammunition, as well as 17 cellphones. Some of the heroin, the feds say, was laced with fentanyl.

Lausch said the investigation began in February 2021. The leader of the operation, prosecutors say, was Nathaniel Evans, 38. Cook County court records show that Evans was arrested on the West Side in March 2021 and charged with possessing more than 800 grams of heroin. Those charges were dropped by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office two months later.

Nathaniel Evans | Chicago police photo

“The street gang problem in Chicago, it’s significant and it’s been significant for a long time,” Lausch said.

Along with Evans, those charged in the federal case are: Jarelle Jones, Marquis Jones, Devontay Logan, Joseph Williams, Dornell Williams, Teremius Webb, Antonio Fletcher, Kyle Linton and Maurice Bell.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago said each defendant has already made their initial court appearance.

The Four Corner Hustlers have for decades claimed territory in the West Garfield Park, the epicenter of the city’s narcotics trade where deadly gang violence is a frequent byproduct.

In March 2020, the former Commander of the Chicago Police Department’s Harrison District ordered officers to check the ID of anyone who tried to travel along four specific blocks that were frequently used for drug sales. Among them was the 3900 block of West Jackson.

The complaint unsealed Thursday is the second major prosecution against the Four Corner Hustlers in the last five years. In September 2017, 11 members of the gang were charged in a sweeping racketeering conspiracy that tied the Four Corner Hustlers to several murders between 2000 and 2012 — including the 2003 killing of Latin Kings leader Rudy “Kato” Rangel Jr.

Ten of those defendants pleaded guilty. The leader of the faction, Labar “Bro Man” Spann, opted to go to trial and a jury found him guilty of racketeering conspiracy, extortion and two other counts of murder in the aid of racketeering, which carry a minimum life sentence.

You can watch the entire press conference in the video below.