Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Federal Officers Seize Dangerous, Drug-Related Substances Shipped From China

Press release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

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A shipment containing over 1,000 pounds of unidentified powder were seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Chicago on April 11.

CBP officers, with the help of Narcotic Detection Dog Aldo, detained 26 boxes of unknown powders which were concealed within bags. A sample of the powder was sent to CBP’s Laboratories and Scientific Services for evaluation.
CBP Narcotic Detection Dog Aldo

There were two types of powder in the shipment. The first powder was identified as BMK methyl Glycidate, a precursor in the synthesis for P2P methamphetamine while the other powder was identified as Benzocaine, a cutting agent for cocaine. The shipment was arriving from Shenzhen, China and was heading to a location in suburban Wood Dale. The shipment was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations and is pending investigation.

“Our ability to collect intelligence and the experience and knowledge of our officers were key in stopping these shipments,” said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director, Field Operations, Chicago Field Office. “Transnational criminals exploit dependencies and addictions to sell their illicit goods. Our officers are trained to identify shipments that contain these potentially dangerous substances and will continue to work to keep private citizens and their families safe.”

CBP is on the front line of America’s fight against dangerous drugs. As the largest law enforcement agency in the United States, CBP is uniquely positioned to detect, identify and seize illicit drugs from entering the country and preventing these deadly substances from entering communities and taking lives.

The CBP Strategy to Combat Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Drugs drives a whole-of-CBP approach feeding into the work taking place across DHS as CBP leads interagency efforts against illicit synthetic narcotics. This strategy aligns resources, enhances partnerships, and builds on CBP’s successful enforcement intelligence and data-driven operations, while leveraging CBP’s vast expertise and data holdings to disrupt the transnational criminal organizations responsible for the illicit production, distribution, and trafficking of illicit fentanyl, its analogues, and other synthetic drugs in the United States.

CBP continues to conduct operations targeting the smuggling of illicit fentanyl and other dangerous drugs. These operations leverage intelligence and investigative information to target drug traffickers’ supply chains and interdict items required in the production of illicit fentanyl, including precursor chemicals, pill presses and parts, movement of finished product and illicit proceeds.

CBP’s border security mission is led at 328 ports of entry by CBP officers from the Office of Field Operations. Please visit CBP Ports of Entry to learn more about how CBP’s Office of Field Operations secures our nation’s borders. Learn more about CBP at www.CBP.gov.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the comprehensive management, control and protection of the nation’s borders, combining customs, immigration, border security and agricultural protection at and between official ports of entry.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Be Careful After Storm Damage, Southwest Side Homeowners Advised

 Local man serves as homeowners’ advocate

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

The sometimes-sudden, severe storms seen on the Southwest Side can leave quite a bit in their wake: downed trees and power lines, damaged roofs and fast-talking quick-fix guys who seem to come out of nowhere.

“You have to be really careful, but perhaps especially senior
citizens,” a Chicago Police officer CPD said at a CAPS meeting a few years back. “This is the time of year when these con artists really come out. Be careful who you open your door for.”

The officer described a situation where a 92-year-old Garfield Ridge man heard his doorbell ring. He answered it and found a man asking him if he was aware that he had roof damage. The elderly homeowner stepped outside and walked around the side of his house with the man, to have a better look and talk about what repairs might costs.

A few minutes later, the senior citizen noticed that accomplices had slipped into his house and stolen and envelope with about $3,000 cash inside. The victim chased the thieves to their pickup truck and grabbed the door as it started to speed away. He was dragged a short distance before he let go.  

The elderly man was banged up, but is recovering.

Other dangers

Another peril that some homeowners face is dealing with insurance companies when they file claims relating to storm damage.

“That storm we had [in May of 2018], where it was like a mini-
tornado and it was even knocking down trees…I could see that my window frames were damaged [from the storm’s wind-blown hail],” said Sue Sarafin, a senior citizen who has owned a home near 57th and Oak Park for about 35 years.
So she called her insurance agent and started the claims process. “They sent somebody out, and he looked at the damage; but then later I learned that all they would pay was for a few replacement screens.”

She was dissatisfied, to say the least.

“You pay your [insurance] premiums for years and years, and then this happens? They only give you this small amount? That doesn’t make sense.”

On the advice of others, she then called Geno Randazzo of All Exterior Contractors—licensed, bonded, insured and a member of the Midway Chamber of Commerce—a Southwest Side native who has earned a reputation as a home repair expert in the area.
All Exterior Contractors and friends.

He also has been visible in the community over the last several years, helping sponsor drives to assist military veterans, local school children and Thanksgiving dinners for senior citizens.

What sets Randazzo apart from others is that he also serves as a public claims adjuster—a licensed professional who can and has gotten insurance companies to pay what they should pay homeowners.

Randazzo “came out and looked at my home and garage, and he pointed out storm damage that I myself had not seen,” Sarafin said. There was damage to the roof my garage, and there was [hail damage] on my gutters, downspouts, awnings and siding.”

She consented to having Randazzo represent her, and he
got to work filing a new claim. After a lot of back and forth over the next several months, the insurance company that had been willing to pay only $2,900 changed course and agreed to pay more than $15,000 for storm damage to her home.

Sarafin said she is “completely satisfied with what Geno did with the insurance company, as well as the quality of the work his company did in repairing my house and garage. I would recommend him to everyone; and the next time a severe storm comes through, I’ll call Geno first.”

“Just about everybody likes their local insurance agent—it
may be a friend, a relative, an old classmate—but all too often, it’s a different story when people have to deal with the big insurance companies,” Randazzo said. “Keep in mind, that big insurance company you’ve been paying premiums to for years and years does not represent you. They represent themselves. Mrs. Sarafin’s story is familiar—a homeowner with thousands of dollars in storm damage, but an insurance company that pays only a few hundred. All too often, people get short-changed; and since they didn’t know their rights, they didn’t know what to do.”

“What I tell people is, call me first at (708) 705-7900—before you call your insurance agent, before you contact your insurance company to make a claim,” Randazzo added. “I will show you how I will work on your behalf, representing you, to get what you deserve.”

Friday, February 9, 2024

Get Ready to Go Green

St. Patrick’s Day Parade returns to Garfield Ridge 

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

For the third year in a row, a person hailed as a hero for bravery and sacrifice will be saluted at the Chicago Working Families’ Archer Avenue St. Patrick’s Day parade, set for Saturday, March 16.
Officer Vásquez Lasso

Chicago Police Officer Andrés Vásquez Lasso, 32, a five-year member of the force, was shot and killed March 1, 2023 as he pursued a man with gun (who had reportedly threatened a woman) near 53rd and Spaulding. Eyewitness accounts said that Officer Vásquez Lasso’s actions may have saved the woman, as well as children playing at a nearby playground.

He is survived by his wife, mother and sister.

“We’re proud to have Officer Vásquez Lasso as the parade’s honorary grand marshal this year,” said parade spokesperson Krissy Kavanagh. “He’s truly a hero, and his ultimate sacrifice should be remembered and honored by everyone.”

She said Officer Vásquez Lasso’s family is expected be on hand at the event.

Revenue from parade sponsorships will be donated to the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s Get Behind the Vest Program, which provides protective vests to CPD officers at no charge.

Last year’s honorary grand marshal was CPD Officer Danny Golden. In 2022, Officer Ella French was honored posthumously.

Staging for community groups marching/riding in the parade will be along Oak Park Avenue, just north of Archer. Staging for the various heavy-equipment vehicles in the parade will be along Archer, just west of Oak Park.

Step-off is set for noon at Archer and Oak Park, with parade units heading east up Archer to Narragansett, where the parade will turn south and disband at the west parking lot of Kennedy High School.

There is no parade after-party, but event organizers urge everyone to instead patronize local restaurants and pubs that could use a surge in business.

It is anticipated that local schools, churches, Scout troops, youth athletic associations and others will have units in the parade. Units will have to register in advance with parade organizers. 

For details, send an inquiry to Archerparade@gmail.com. Those hoping to be in the parade must register by Feb. 23. 

The parade’s host is the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, led by its president-business manager, James M. Sweeney.

Serving as a parade co-host again is the Clear-Ridge Men’s Social Athletic Club (SAC).
Kids are especially fond of the parade.

“This is a wonderful, family-focused event that has a lot of neighborhood charm,” said SAC member Al Cacciottolo. “Aside from being a lot of fun, it’s a real showcase for our community organizations to put their best foot forward and let people know who they are. It’s one of those events that help build a stronger and better neighborhood.

“On top of that, Garfield Ridge and Clearing are working neighborhoods, union neighborhoods,” he continued. “So we’re grateful to Jim Sweeney and Local 150 for their leadership with this awesome neighborhood event.”

The parade on Archer is set to occur the same day as the downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade and a day before the annual South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade, in the Beverly and Morgan Park neighborhood on the Far Southwest Side.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Twisted Shamrock Pub Brings Fun to Midway Area

Earning reputation as a ‘community gathering place’

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

In its bid to become the Midway area’s go-to spot for good times in 2024 and beyond, Twisted Shamrock Pub appears to have a leg up on everyone else.
Jon and Zen McHugh at the bar.

Under a new ownership and management mix, the pub at the northwest corner of 65th and Central has been turning heads since late fall. It staged a string of successful events that among other things allowed it to showcase the upgrades made to better serve the area.

“My goal is for this to be a community gathering space—not just a tavern, not just a sports bar, not just a neighborhood bar,” said co-owner Zenon McHugh. He hopes to use Twisted Shamrock Pub to build a better sense of community, “to get people out of their homes and have good times, face to face.”

To that end, Twisted Shamrock Pub continues to fill its calendars with pro and college sports “watch” parties (it serves as an unofficial South Side home for University of Michigan fans and will host a Super Bowl watch party next month), trivia and board game nights, holiday-themed parties and more.
A night of fun at Twisted Shamrock Pub.

Additionally, Twisted Shamrock Pub has scheduled four comedy shows in 2024. First up is March 9. Details will be announced in the weeks ahead. McHugh describes comedy shows as a “passion project” for him and his team.
Another key attraction at Twisted Shamrock Pub is its schedule of Twisted Live Fridays, starting Jan. 19.  McHugh and his team have booked acoustic solo and duo acts every Friday until June 28. A food truck will be at each Live Friday event.

McHugh has refurbished quite a bit to make the interior bright and inviting. He describes it as a place “where good times and Irish charm meet” and its visual appeal is consistent with that billing.

The tap beer lineup is impressive.
In terms of its target market, Twisted Shamrock is aiming at the solid center of the community. It definitely isn’t a shot-and-a-beer joint, yet it’s not a high-end place that puts on airs. It’s a comfortable pub serving an interesting and eclectic line-up of craft beers, as well as wine, champagne and mixed drinks that are consistent and enjoyable.

It also aims to attract a consistent share of visitors to Chicago—especially those who attend various functions at the booming Wintrust Sports Complex across the street in Bedford Park.

From the community, for the community

A Garfield Ridge native who still lives in the community, McHugh is a 2000 graduate of Hale School and a 2004 alumnus of St. Laurence High School. He went on to DePaul University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and the University of Illinois, where he earned a master’s degree in taxation.

While still a teen, McHugh began learning the ropes of the business world—meaning that while he is just 38 years old, he has some 20 years of B2B work under his belt. Since 2017 he has owned Chicago EA, the Garfield Ridge-based business he founded. The firm is known for delivering smart advice on taxation, as well as accounting and consulting services to its clients.

McHugh also serves as first vice president of the Midway Chamber of Commerce, working to help the area’s business community thrive.

McHugh’s family is no stranger to the hospitality business. Two of his grandmothers owned bars many years ago, one in Bridgeport. And one of his uncles, Jon, has worked as a bar back, bartender and general manager for more than 20 years. In fact, Jon McHugh is a familiar face at and a partner in Twisted Shamrock Pub.

Twisted Shamrock’s Pub’s hours of operation are 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays, and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sundays. Times are subject to change based on special events. Follow Twisted Shamrock Pub on Facebook or Instagram to stay up to date as the good times roll at 65th and Central.

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