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Crime & Courts

Five charged with marijuana trafficking

Authorities say five people have been charged for trafficking nearly 600 pounds of marijuana from Arizona to Illinois.

The group had been under surveillance for three months by several police agencies before the investigation concluded Tuesday, according to a news release from the North Central Narcotics Task Force. Police seized 598 pounds of marijuana during the investigation.

Those charged with marijuana trafficking, possession of more than 5,000 grams of marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of more than 5,000 grams of marijuana include Richard G. Ecklund, 48, of the 2700 block of Sperry Court in Batavia; Dean A. Dziuba, 55, of the 1100 block of Lodgepole Court in Darien; Matthew A. Westerlin, 28, of the 300 block of Nebraska Street in Elburn; and Crystal L. Westerlin, 29, of the 300 block of Nebraska Street in Elburn.

Mary L. Nunez, 57, of the 2700 block of Sperry Court in Batavia, was charged with marijuana trafficking.

Bond was set Wednesday at $35 million for Ecklund, Dziuba and Crystal and Matthew Westerlin. Bond for Nunez was set at $27 million.

“This was a pretty complex investigation,” said Master Sgt. Bill Backus, director of the North Central Narcotics Task Force. “It did take some time to sort out the details of the case.”

In September, authorities received information about a marijuana trafficking organization based out of Kane and McHenry counties, according to the release. The information led police to figure out the group’s shipping schedule and when the next shipment would be.

During several days in November, police surveyed the suspects as they traveled from Arizona to Illinois, according to the release. About 8 p.m. Tuesday, authorities conducted simultaneous traffic stops on four vehicles occupied by the suspects.

Police pulled over a 2008 Toyota Camry at the intersection of Jericho Road and Route 47 in Sugar Grove. Three other vehicles were stopped on Orchard Road just north of Prairie Street in Aurora. Authorities detained seven people at that time, and three were released pending further investigation, which may result in additional charges.

K-9s alerted police to drugs located in a 2009 Lexus and the 2008 Camry, where police seized 598 pounds of marijuana. After the traffic stops, police searched homes in the 300 block of Nebraska Street in Elburn and the 2700 block of Sperry Court in Batavia. They seized three firearms from the Batavia residence.

Backus said the wholesale price of a pound of marijuana ranges anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 in street value. The amount seized Tuesday was worth between $598,000 and $897,000.

“The drug problem is something that affects everyone in the community,” he said. “To see people from Batavia and Elburn going from Arizona to Illinois – that affects everyone.”

The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the DuPage County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, the North Central Narcotics Task Force, the Illinois State Police, the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office.

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