A Chicago teen held in Cook County Jail on a burglary charge told a purported hit man named “Smoke” that he wanted a witness in his case “kidnapped, raped and dumped in a creek,” prosecutors said today.
Juan Vanga, 17, agreed to pay Smoke $1,500 to carry out the murder, prosecutors said. When asked if he was sure, Vanga allegedly replied, “I need this (expletive) gone.”
But Smoke turned out to be a Cook County sheriff’s officer posing as a hit man. Now Vanga has been charged with solicitation of murder and solicitation of murder for hire.
Prosecutors said Vanga, of the 10000 block of South Avenue L, had no criminal convictions on his record and would have been eligible for probation if convicted of the pending residential burglary charge.
He faces at least 20 years in prison if found guilty of the new charges, according to prosecutors.
Cook County Associate Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil ordered Vanga held on $300,000 bail today.
Vanga had been charged with residential burglary in January after being arrested leaving a home in the 500 block of Oglesby Avenue in Calumet City. He was being held on $30,000 bail in the jail when he allegedly started talking to another inmate about his case.
“Vanga told the inmate that there was a female witness in the house which he broke into and she was hiding in a closet,” said Assistant State’s Atty. Matthew Thrun. “They began talking about what would happen if the witness didn’t come to court.”
In later conversations, Vanga told the other inmate the woman’s death could be made to look like a carjacking or she could be “kidnapped, raped and dumped in a creek,” Thrun quoted him as saying.
The other inmate offered to put him in touch with his brother, Smoke, but he told sheriff’s officials of the plot and began cooperating with investigators. The inmate passed along a phone number for Smoke, but in reality it was an undercover sheriff’s officer. Vanga called the number “within 15 minutes” and agreed to meet with Smoke at the jail on Feb. 11, Thrun said.
At that meeting, Vanga gave the officer the witness’ address and agreed to the $1,500 fee, according to Thrun. On Sunday, Vanga called Smoke again to discuss the hit and the undercover officer told him “there might be other people around and he might have to take care of them also,” Thrun said.
“Vanga responded that he didn’t care,” Thrun said.
When sheriff’s police confronted Vanga in the jail Monday, he admitted he had agreed to pay Smoke to kill the witness, Thrun said.
While officials said Vanga was a junior at George Washington High School on Chicago’s Far Southeast Side, the teen has not been enrolled in the school since last year, said Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Monique Bond.