Evanston man sentenced to 8 years in prison for marijuana distribution, money laundering

Rishika Dugyala, Assistant Summer Editor

An Evanston man was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison for distributing more than a thousand kilograms of marijuana and laundering the proceeds through luxury car purchases and property leases.

Jonathan Tankson, 32, coordinated bulk shipments of marijuana from large-scale growers in California, flying there at least twice per month between December 2010 and December 2013 and bringing with him $400,000 to $500,000 in cash each time,according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. He purchased about 100 to 200 pounds of marijuana at a time and had the drugs shipped on vans and tractor trailers to Chicago stash houses, one of which was located in Lincoln Park.

Tankson pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with the intent to deliver and conspiracy to commit money laundering. U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly heard his case in a Chicago federal court.

The Evanston resident used the drug proceeds to purchase several luxury automobiles through straw purchasers between June 2011 and December 2013, according to a written plea agreement. Tankson acknowledged in the agreement that his intention was to conceal the source of the drug proceeds, the release said. Tankson organized the purchase of a Porsche Cayenne sports utility vehicle, a Mercedes-Benz S63 sedan, an Audi A8 sedan and other luxury vehicles.

Tankson was arrested in December 2013. Law enforcement found more than $1 million in cash, about 75 kilograms of marijuana stuffed into multiple plastic bags, five suitcases filled with marijuana, 20 rounds of ammunition and two pistol magazines in his Lincoln Park stash house.

A money laundering investigation following his arrest led to the additional convictions of two Chicago residents — one orchestrated the purchases of Tankson’s vehicles and the other helped Tankson fraudulently lease the Lincoln Park house. They will be sentenced in September in federal court.

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