Arrests  in  North Shore heroin ring investigation

Nikkolas Casillo (left), Taylor Appelbaum (center), and James Findlay have been arrested after a three-month investigation into an alleged north suburban heroin distribution ring. (Wilmette Police Dept. / April 9, 2014)

A three-month investigation into an alleged north suburban heroin distribution ring has led to the arrests of a former Wilmette resident, an Evanston resident, a Glencoe resident and a juvenile from Chicago, authorities announced today.

Authorities alleged that a heroin distribution network was operated by Nikkolas Casillo, 28, a former Wilmette resident who allegedly supplied the drug to lower-level drug dealers in Chicago and on the North Shore who then resold the heroin in area communities.

Authorities said Casillo, now of the 4400 block of West Washington Boulevard in Chicago, is charged with manufacture/delivery of heroin; manufacture/delivery of heroin within 1,000 feet of a public park, school or church; employing a person under 18 to deliver a controlled substance; and possession of heroin over 15 grams, all felonies.

Officials said Casillo was arrested in Chicago on Monday after he allegedly directed a 17-year-old female to deliver heroin to an undercover officer. The juvenile was taken into custody during the drug sale. Officers recovered additional heroin and a small amount of cannabis from Casillo's apartment, police said.

The juvenile, 17 and from Chicago, is charged with manufacture/delivery of heroin, including near a school, park or church.

Another one of the suspects, who authorities said is one of Casillo’s lower-level dealers, was arrested after undercover officers purchased heroin from him, officials said.

That man, identified by police as James Findlay, 23, was arrested Monday in a vehicle in the driveway of his residence in the 800 block of Greenwood in Glencoe, authorities said. They also said that he was in possession of a small amount of cannabis at the time of his arrest.

The driver of the vehicle, Taylor Appelbaum, 23, was also arrested after he was found to be in unlawful possession of prescription pills and cannabis, said authorities.

Findlay was charged with manufacture/delivery of heroin, including near public park, school or church and misdemeanor possession of cannabis, police said.

Appelbaum, of the 1700 block of Oak Street in Evanston, is charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of cannabis, authorities said.

The investigation was launched after information was developed by Wilmette police of heroin use and sales on the North Shore, authorities said Wednesday. The Cook County Sheriff’s Police was contacted and a joint investigation led to numerous sales of heroin to undercover officers posing as suburban residents, said authorities.

"I think anytime we arrest somebody that's selling drugs to kids it's a satisfying bust," Wilmette police commander Patrick Collins, said Wednesday. "The officers did a good job. Heroin has become a concern because of its relatively cheap cost...this drug is now making its way back."

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