A judge set bail at $5 million Sunday for a Des Plaines man accused at opening fire on undercover narcotics officers who were watching a Wood Dale warehouse for suspected drug activity, authorities said.
Those officers’ investigation eventually led to the seizure of $22 million of marijuana and $107,000 cash from the warehouse, according to the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office.
Nicholas Valentino, 33, of the 8000 block of North Western Avenue in Des Plaines, is charged with one count of unlawful possession of cannabis with intent to deliver, one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, two counts of armed violence, two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm, and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, all felonies.
His arrest culminated a chain of events that began Thursday night as officers with the DuPage County Metropolitan Enforcement Group surveilling the warehouse saw a van and Volkswagen leaving, authorities said. The officers followed the vehicles into Chicago, but ended their pursuit there.
When the officers returned to Wood Dale, they spotted the van again and attempted a traffic stop, DuPage County prosecutors say. The van’s driver initially refused to stop, but then braked abruptly on a residential street. A man prosecutors say is Valentino stepped out of the vehicle and fired two shots at the officers’ car, then got behind the wheel of the Volkswagen police had followed earlier and sped away.
Neither officer was struck by the gunfire. Authorities believe the Volkswagen had been parked at that spot earlier as part of a plot to ambush the officers.
Police chased the vehicles through residential areas of Wood Dale and eventually onto Route 83, where the van and the Volkswagen went in separate directions, prosecutors said. A short time later, the Volkswagen was involved in a crash with a Bensenville police squad car and an unmarked police vehicle, authorities said.
Prosecutors said Valentino, the only occupant of the Volkswagen, was taken into custody after the crash. Officers found a full magazine for an AR-15 rifle in the vehicle, and an AR-15-style rifle later was found on a residential street in Bensenville along Valentino’s path of travel, officials said.
On Friday, a search warrant was executed at the Wood Dale warehouse and authorities found approximately 40 pallets of vacuum-sealed cannabis totaling approximately 7,688 pounds, approximately 406 pounds of cannabis edibles, 6,891 THC cartridges and more than 700 grams psilocybin mushroom bars, prosecutors said.
“The allegations against Mr. Valentino are completely outrageous,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in an announcement of the arrest Sunday. “This case is another reminder of the extreme danger officers face day in and day out as they protect the public.”
Valentino’s next court date is scheduled for June 28.