River Forest police make double drug bust


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By Megan Dooley

Staff Reporter

A River Forest resident and her alleged drug supplier were arrested June 8 on felony charges after being apprehended shortly following an alleged drug transaction on a River Forest street.

Vanessa Benefico, 25, of the 7200 block of Oak St., was arrested by River Forest police and charged with possession of a controlled substance, and Charles Banks, 53, of the 1900 block of S. 18th Ave. in Maywood, was charged with manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance after the two were seen performing what looked to be a hand-to-hand drug exchange on the street near Harlem and Oak on June 8.

According to a report released by the River Forest Police Department, detectives had been investigating Benefico after receiving numerous anonymous complaints during May about her involvement in suspicious drug activity in the multifamily apartment complex where she lives.

Police and WEDGE regional drug task force members were monitoring Benefico when they observed the hand-to-hand exchange. Benefico and Banks were stopped separately after the incident and later taken into custody.

River Forest Police Sergeant Michael Thornley said village officers were familiar with Benefico from a prior arrest for retail theft in April.

"At the time of the retail theft, we noted indicators that she may be addicted to heroin," he said. Some time later, Thornley said Benefico was stopped by officers while trying to dispose of used syringes.

The report stated that in the course of the investigation, it was determined that Banks had sold Benefico what's known as a "jab" of heroin or a bundle of 12 bags full of heroin for a price of $100.

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Jon from OP  

Posted: June 27th, 2011 9:46 PM

@Frank Are you the same Frank Rizzo from the Jerky Boys?


Posted: June 27th, 2011 2:54 PM

For all we know she is a function drug addict. They do exist.I wouldnt say her life is in shambles. She does live in a condo.

Frank Rizzo from Westchester  

Posted: June 27th, 2011 2:41 PM

Another thing: The police haven't done anything positive for this woman by arresting her. The dealer is very small potatoes to begin with! Besides having her suffer for up to 30 days in Cook County (if she isn't bonded out), this case will most likely be dropped for no probable cause..If the system cared, she would go to drug court and be offered a chance to go to rehab immediately. The girl's life is in shambles, and many of you are too quick to call her a scumbag..shame on you!

Frank Rizzo from Westchester  

Posted: June 27th, 2011 2:36 PM

Heroin is a serious epidemic, primarily because the drug laws in the US are far too stringent to allow addicts to get state-funded Diamorphine (medical-grade heroin) like they can in Germany, the UK, and Switzerland. Most people are so closed-minded when it comes to addicts, not realizing that this is probably the hardest thing they will ever have to recover from. Oh, and Violet- I know Chuck personally, he isn't in a gang...


Posted: June 15th, 2011 9:12 AM

Tyrone: Why do you think I carjacked you, Rhonda? Rhonda: Cause the cops found you in it three hours later asleep, high on crack! Tyrone: That's impossible, Rhonda. How can you sleep when you're high on crack?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 13th, 2011 10:00 PM

Addicts have lost control of their lives and can only focus on the next fix. It consumes their thoughts and very existence. Nothing else matters. Nothing is more important. Gang dealing is the last stop on the money train. The drug cartels make huge profits and are protected by governments both here and abroad. When Californians were presented with a ballot measure to decriminalize marijuana, the Mexican cartels donated money to opposition groups. Fund recovery programs and give up the war.

OP Guy  

Posted: June 13th, 2011 9:06 PM

All addicts need help, but they are also some of the most selfish people around (at least the one's I've known). Addicts I've known stole from their parents, friends, everyone... One guy pawned his mother's wedding ring. Some were good people, some were not, but they should not be excused for the crime they commit, even if it is scoring dope, because they are not only harming themselves, but creating demand that leads to increase gang activity and more serious crimes etc...

T.J. from OP  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 8:34 PM

If this woman can't be helped, socialism is a dead. I fear this poor girl will be dead within 5 years.

The Real Marco  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 7:10 PM

Thats why they will move into the comcast building, not people woking in op making 26k a year. Glayds' own words, we will take people at our own discression

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 6:21 PM

I hope you are wrong,Nick. It's very difficult for women to get into residential treatment programs in the Chicago area. There's always a very long waiting list. Treatment by for-profits is too expensive for most addicts and their families. Incarcerating people with substance abuse problems cost taxpayers more than rehab. You would think politicians could figure that out but they accept campaign money from the contractors who build and manage the prisons. The system is corrupt.

Paddy Boy  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 5:44 PM

It's a waste of tax dollars to chase drug users around like this. Back in the 60's and 70's when I was running around Madison St. and Roosevelt Rd. the cops would just hit you over the head with a flashlight and take you're money and dope and sent you running.

Violet Aura  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 12:51 PM

@Resident: Then enlighten me, oh wise one! Love your handle; uber inventive. Must have taken you quite a while to think it up. Why are you so crabby--lost your H connection? LOL

Nick from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 12:31 PM

Haymarket is not a good place. Any who disagree I dare to volunteer there for a day. Sadly it is a perfect example of what is wrong with many treatment centers around Chicago. Please send your money elsewhere. Hospital treatment centers are a better bet.


Posted: June 10th, 2011 11:45 AM

violet aura still clueless.

Violet Aura  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 11:31 AM

@MCW: Well, thanks for the possible explanation. I thought it was just a symbolic gesture.


Posted: June 10th, 2011 11:10 AM

@Violet Aura: Nuclear Free zone is supposed to prohibit the transportation of nuclear materials and waste through our village. If I remember corectly, the village cannot have contracts with nuclear manufacturing companies either. Don't quote me on this.

Violet Aura from `  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 10:51 AM

LOL@ RF Realist: "Republic of OP!" Good one! I am tickled by that typically dopey Utopian sign in OP about it being a nuclear-free zone. So if that dude from North Korea ever gets a major bee in his bonnet, I guess the missles will just bounce off of dear OP and perhaps land in...CICERO?

Violet Aura  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 10:33 AM

@OP Resident: So what do you propose then? I realize that she's small potatoes but the man selling it to her--is he associated with a street gang? You cannot grow opium in Maywood! I am totally in favor of simply putting a drug addict in a program instead of prison but don't you agree that something has to be done? Where did she get that $100 in the first place? And she had already been arrested for theft so we know the answer.

lam from Oak Park  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 9:28 AM

I'm kind of puzzled by the comments here bashing the police for arresting a heroin addict. I don't think people understand the connection between hard drug abuse and violent crimes. Drug addiction is often time the motivation for all these robberies and home invasions that take place. The police should certainly do their job and arrest these people.


Posted: June 10th, 2011 8:51 AM



Posted: June 10th, 2011 8:40 AM

OPPD and RFPD have very different jobs. I would say it's easier to catch a "hand-to-hand" drug transaction in RF due to the fact that there is less traffic, foot and vehicle. Also remember this was a joint effort . "Police and WEDGE regional drug task force members were monitoring Benefico when they observed the hand-to-hand exchange." Not putting down the RFPD, awesome work, but they can't take all the credit. Lock 'em up! That's what i say. Long live the Republic of Oak Park! lolzz

OP Guy  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 12:51 AM

Realist, I for one have continually congratuated RFPD on their consistant ability to catch criminals much more so than OPPD, so I'm not really sure what you are refering to, no offence. Everything bust is a victory of sorts, and we don't know what lead to this, or what this may lead to, so it's hard to talk about RFPD's judgement on the matter. I too wish it was a king pin, but I would not turn my nose up at catching any criminal no matter how small or large.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 12:30 AM

Thanks, Realist. I think a lot of folks are frustrated when law enforcement is not able to nab the real criminals. Whether it's drug dealing or the banking industry. Too often, these crooks are able to use their ill-gotten gains to avoid punishment. The misery of drug addiction destroys the individual and devastates their families. Most of us would like to see this young woman find her path to sobriety. River Forest police did her favor. The next step is treatment but she must want it.


Posted: June 10th, 2011 12:23 AM

RFR, Have you seen the corner of Lake and Harlem on the RF side any time of the day? Scary. PD must do more. How many heroin bust have been made in that vicinity? Not good at all. I'm sure there are plenty that go uncaught. Hmmmm

River Forest Realist  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 12:16 AM

Jim You are correct and I apologize if you, or anyone else, was offended. However, all I seem to see is OP residents recently commenting on how the RF police wasted their time. That is specifically what we pay them for....I call in and tell them I see crime and I expect them to take action. Thanks for the healthy debate. This is what America is all about.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 12:03 AM

Explain why you refer to our village as "the Republic of Oak Park"? Is it suppossed to be a dig? I think most River Forest residents are reasonable and thoughful people. They would also say "Don't you dare bring a nuke or handgun" into their community. So what's your point, Realist. Oak Park is not a haven for outcasts and criminal elements. There's no welcome mat for them at our border. We don't tolerate crime and our police department serves us well. Be careful climbing off your high horse.

River Forest Realist  

Posted: June 10th, 2011 12:01 AM

I posted my opinion to www.riverforest.com. I obviously do realize that the comments go to www.oakpark.com automatically. I would never voice my opinion on an oak park article...I am not from there.

epic lulz  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 11:28 PM

*zzzzzoooooooommmmmm* That's the sounds of the point going in one of RFR's ears and out the other, without any hindrance. My diagnosis would be decades of glue-sniffing have melted all the glial cells. I do believe you RFers are a little too stupid to understand the concepts being discussed here. It might be best if you stopped associating yourselves with OP and stop coming to oakpark.com. Create your own little riverforest.com website. You'll be much happier with your own kind.

River Forest Realist  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 11:04 PM

Last time I checked possessing or selling heroin is illegal in every state...including the Republic of Oak Park. Coughing or contracting TB is not. Good comparison! Don't you dare bring a nuke or a handgun into OP though; OP is a nuclear and handgun free zone but welcomes the drug addicts, burglars, robbers, and attackers who don't want to get caught. Good plan! I'll stay in RF where we don't tolerate crime, nor do our police officers.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 10:19 PM

Wonderful gesture,Frank. There are limited options for women struggling with substance abuse issues. I suggest you contact Haymarket Center (312-226-7984). Let's keep a good thought in our hearts for this young woman.

epic lulz  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 10:11 PM

(*slow clap*) Way to go RFPD! Busting a heroin addict for buying heroin is almost as impressive as busting someone with TB for coughing. Until we as a society recognize that drug addiction is a HEALTH ISSUE, not a fricking criminal issue, we'll NEVER win the "war" on drugs. We will however continue to ruin millions of lives, and PDs everywhere will continue to beat their breasts every time they throw a sick person in prison.


Posted: June 9th, 2011 9:19 PM

If you cant do the time dont do the crime

Another OP resident  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 8:57 PM

Yes, Frank, good idea. it would be of interest to know the agencies' game plans, funding cuts, etc. They have programs, of course, and then one day you read the Wednesday Journal and find out it was a front for a tax or insurance scandal maybe even a relative but we're all in this together so i would consider matching, sure ;D

Frank from OP  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 8:34 PM

I'm willing to spend $500 of my own money to be used towards any agency with a game plan to help this girl. Just post your agency info and I'll contact you. Will anyone else match my offer?

Frank from Formerly of Oak Park  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 8:28 PM

I pray that Ms. Benefico gets the help she needs to overcome her drug addiction. It is a very difficult problem to correct. Hopefully one of the countless social service agencies in the OP area will seek her out and offer assistance. Is this at all possible? What agency can I contact to step in?

T.J. from OP  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 8:01 PM

I wouldn't exactly say this arrest is a feather in the hat of RFPD and the WEDGE task force. Seriously, go after bigger crime than this. Hey, I think some merchant is selling rolling paper over on Madison. Maybe you guys can spend a week doing undercover work and make an arrest. Law Enforcement is becoming a joke.


Posted: June 9th, 2011 7:42 PM

There's no drug testing required to live in that project, OP, and just because a person has a drug problem doesn't mean they have a criminal record so background checks are irrelevant. Tenants have all the rights once they sign a lease, even if they get in trouble with drugs. The worst Interfaith will do is send in Catholic Charities to lecture an offender on how bad drugs are. Just wait...

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 5:32 PM

The war on drugs has boosted profits for the drug cartels, lined the pockets of contractors and increased the nation's prison population. Interesting to note that some of the money spent to fight against measures to legalize marijuana in California was traced back to Mexican drug dealers. Eliminate the profit motive and address addiction as a disease.


Posted: June 9th, 2011 5:30 PM

I agree, OP Resident. I wish we dealt with addiction like the UK or other enlightened Euro countries.


Posted: June 9th, 2011 5:00 PM

This kind of thing wouldn't be tolerated at the Interfaith project. All the opponents that said there are plenty of available apartments to meet demand were wrong from one stand point- over sight of the tenants. Do you want these types living side by side with you? These types wouldn't be accepted into Interfaith. Thank God for that.

OP Resident  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 4:50 PM

River Forest police "spent a great deal of time investigating" and they nabbed a hapless addict and a foot soldier. The dope seized has a street value of $100. Law enforcement plays a game with the public when they arrest the bottom-feeders while the drug kingpins live the high life in gated communities. The feds have spent more than $1,000.000.000 since 2000 to fight a drug war. Yet, the dope still flows into Chicago and suburbs. It's time to redirect resources towards treatment and education.

Local Resident from River Forest  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 4:12 PM

Resident - I disagree with your conclusion. RF is not going down the drain, the police are stepping it up.


Posted: June 9th, 2011 3:52 PM

RF really seems to be going down the drain. What is going on?

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