Prosecutors: Cops find gun, cash, and nearly 2 pounds of cocaine in River North traffic stop

Steven Wills | CPD

A paroled cocaine dealer ran from a police traffic stop and holed up inside a luxury condo construction site in River North on Sunday afternoon, police said. Cops found nearly two pounds of cocaine, a gun, and $10,000 in the car he allegedly left behind.

Everything started smoothly as police pulled Steven Wills over for a minor traffic violation on the 700 block of North LaSalle. But that changed when his front seat passenger, Ariel Crawford, stepped out of the car and police saw a loaded handgun in the side panel of her door, Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph DiBella said.

Wills, 39, allegedly pulled away from a cop who was trying to detain him and ran. With police on his heels, Wills darted into a partially-completed condo building on the 100 block of West Erie and hunkered down, according to DiBella.

Police surrounded the site and camped out for nearly two hours while authorities secured permission from the building’s owner to search the interior. They found Wills on the second floor, DiBella said.

But he says that’s not all the police found. Inside Willis’ car, stashed in a bookbag, was 1.8 pounds of suspected cocaine, $10,000 cash, and another loaded handgun, according to the state. Wills’ defense attorney said police actually found the contraband inside a panel.

Police said they seized these items from Steven Wills’ vehicle. | CPD

While DiBella said the cocaine was worth $102,000, Wills’ attorney said it would be worth no more than $24,000 when sold as individual baggies. She also suggested that Wills may not have known about the gun, cocaine, and cash because he recently bought the car.

Ariel Crawford | CPD

Wills is on parole after serving half of a ten-year sentence for manufacture-delivery of cocaine. He’s now charged with armed habitual criminal, armed violence, delivery of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance.

Judge John Lyke ordered Wills held in lieu of a $75,000 cash bond and ordered him to go onto electronic monitoring. For now, though, Wills is being held without bail until the state parole board decides whether he should be sent back to prison for violating the terms of his release.

Crawford, 24, has no previous arrests and is a licensed concealed carry holder. She’s charged with delivery of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance. Lyke released her on her own recognizance.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is