Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Inside Job

Some of you may have heard about the theft of nearly 4 kilograms of heroin from outside a Will County sheriff's substation last week.  According to the Chicago Tribune, heroin retails on the street for more than $500,000 per kilo when broken down and sold in smaller amounts.  

Not only was the heroin worth about $2 million, but it was probably worth more than that to the people responsible for transporting it through Will County.  A guy named Jose A. Zamago-Mena was arrested with the heroin in February.  Mr. Zamago-Mena's former employers probably have a pretty strong interest in preventing him from testifying against them in exchange for a reduction of his own charges.  

There is no need for Mr. Zamago-Mena to testify against anybody, however, if the charges against him are dismissed.  Will County can't make a case against anybody without the drugs.  No evidence, no case.  I'm completely speculating here, but it is entirely possible whoever stole the heroin was paid off by the bad guys.  Either way, whether it was bribery or only theft of evidence, several serious crimes were committed, and it sure looks like an inside job.  

The heroin was apparently stored in a shipping container that was placed in an outdoor parking lot ordinarily used to store seized vehicles.  I don't know exactly where the theft occurred, or how secure that lot was, but I have been to a storage lot used by the Aurora Police Department for the same purpose.  The lot that I visited was simply surrounded by chain link fence.  Not too secure.  Also, the storage container was apparently just locked with a standard padlock.  If someone can cut through a chain link fence, they can also cut open a padlock.  Why was $2 million worth of drugs that could probably fit inside a suitcase stored outside at a "substation" out in the middle of nowhere?  Why wasn't it stored inside the police department in a secured area where all visitors would have to show credentials and sign a visitor's log?  

Another article in the Chicago Tribune stated that the FBI has taken over the investigation into the stolen heroin.  I bet there were several Will County employees with butterflies in their stomachs when that news was announced.  I'm glad the FBI got involved though.  I wasn't too surprised to read that in the Tribune.  This was obviously an inside job and Will Count can't be trusted to investigate. The Tribune article stated that a "buffet" of various other narcotics from closed cases were left untouched during the theft.  All that was stolen was the heroin from the open prosecution of Mr. Zamago-Mena.  There is no other explanation.  A cop did this.  

There were some statements in that article that did surprise me, however.  First, Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas said that it was his daughter, Jana Schaeffer, a coordinator who works in the evidence section of the department, who moved the heroin outside into the shipping container.  Then, Sheriff Kaupus acknowledged that it was his son-in-law, and Jana's husband, Brett Schaeffer, who leads the gang suppression unit that arrested Mr. Zamago-Mena with the heroin.  Then, Deputy Chief Ken Kaupas, another relative of the Sheriff, said in a statement that "a mistake was made but we've already taken steps so this will never happen again."

But, apparently neither Paul Kaupas, Ken Kaupas, Jana Schaeffer, nor Brett Schaeffer have lost their jobs.  That is what surprised me, although I am certainly not accusing any one of them of doing anything illegal.  What also surprised me was that Will County is such a family-friendly place to work.  I neither live nor work in Will County, so it just took me by surprise to see the Sheriff's whole family in leadership positions in the department. 

Anyway, hopefully it won't be too much longer before the FBI announces big time arrests at the Sheriff's department.  I'll keep you posted if I learn anything new.      

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