Maria Garza, 43, was convicted Tuesday of the manufacture and delivery of cocaine, the manufacture and delivery of heroin, methamphetamine trafficking, and trafficking of a controlled substance, according to court records. Garza was held in Cook County jail on a $1 million bail.
Her co-defendant, Carmelo D. Rios, 43, also of Arlington Heights, pleaded guilty to the manufacture and delivery of heroin in late February 2015 in exchange for a 13-year prison sentence.
Going back as early as November 2011, Carmelo D. Rios, Maria Garza and four men from Chicago, Philadelphia and Placentia, California were arrested and charged after a six-month investigation into the drug trafficking operation.
Police say the couple used a Buffalo Grove pizzeria as a front for drug trafficking. Garza and Rios, who co-owned and operated the former DeLuca’s pizzeria, were arrested in November 2011 following a six-month undercover operation involving the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Narcotics Prosecution Bureau. The couple was charged with running a drug operation out of their Arlington Heights home and DeLuca’s Pizzeria and Catering, which is now closed, and was located on Weiland Road at the southwest corner with Deerfield Parkway in Buffalo Grove in the Highland Oaks strip mall.
Investigators and Cook County prosecutors said Garza and Rios imported heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana for distribution in Chicagoland and on the East Coast. Surveillance video showed Garza and Rios arranging for the transportation, delivery and sale of narcotics to their customers, prosecutors said.
DEA agents recovered more than 16.5 pounds (7.5 kg) of heroin, 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of methamphetamine and 5.1 pounds (2.3 kg) of marijuana connected to the suspects during the investigation. The street value totaled about $900,000, authorities said.
Maria Garza’s charges could result in a sentence of up to 60 years in prison. Her next scheduled court appearance is June 19, 2017
Carmelo Rios, who received the 13-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to the manufacturing and delivering heroin charges, also received credit for more than three years he had already spent in custody. Rios must complete at least 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. Rios, 5’5″ 170 LBS, was admitted to the Taylorville Correctional Center in Taylorville, Illinois on February 24, 2015. His projected parole date is August 11, 2021.
Rios was also ordered to pay $3,000 in fines, according to court records.
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Maria Garza convicted manufacture and delivery of cocaine, the manufacture and delivery of heroin, trafficking methamphetamine.
Carmelo D. Rios pleaded guilty to the manufacture and delivery of heroin.