Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cocaine Trafficking Charges Filed Against 72 People for Conspiracy Focused on East Side of Cleveland

CLEVELAND—Seventy-two people were indicted in federal court in the Northern District of Ohio for their roles in a conspiracy to bring powder and crack cocaine in from Georgia and Kentucky and sell it throughout Greater Cleveland, law enforcement officials announced today.

Four of those indicted are also accused of taking part in the shooting and robbery of a Euclid, Ohio man in January 2012. That shooting led to a manhunt throughout Euclid and Cleveland.

An additional 14 people were indicted in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Common Pleas Court on state drug charges.

The indictment is believed to be the largest ever filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, in terms of number of defendants.

“The criminal activity laid out in this indictment shows the lengths people will go to sell drugs, but it should also underscore our commitment to fighting back,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

“This investigation and 97-count indictment represent a top-to-bottom dismantlement of a violent criminal organization intent on polluting our neighborhoods with drugs,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office. “As evidenced by the results of this investigation, the Northern Ohio Law Enforcement Task Force and its community partners will work tirelessly to target and eliminate the most significant threats to our communities.”

Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath said, “With these 86 indictments, a major blow has been dealt to drug trafficking in this area. This is another example of what can be accomplished when our law enforcement partners work together to identify and arrest those individuals responsible for selling drugs in our communities. Along with our law enforcement partners and the community, we will continue to work together to stop the sale of illegal drugs in our neighborhoods.”

The drug conspiracy took place between 2011 and May 2012, according to the 97-count federal indictment.

Walter Williams obtained kilogram amounts of cocaine in Georgia and elsewhere and transported the drugs to Cleveland, where he sold the cocaine to Edward Martin and others. Martin, in turn, sold large amounts of cocaine to Deante Rogers, Thomas McDonald, Aaron Strange, Andy Gray, Jamar Pennyman, T’Andre Buchanan, Irin Green, David Paige, Demtrius Duvall, Dennis Edwards, Shaughn Hubbard, Richard Wilson, and others in the Greater Cleveland area, according to the indictment.

Chase Downey, John Campbell, Javier Garza, and Francisco Rodriguez, all of Kentucky, traveled to the Cleveland area and sold kilograms of cocaine to Charles Smith, Randy Jackson, Deante Rogers, Thomas McDonald, and others, according to the indictment.

Deante Rogers used his Cleveland residence to sell, process, and store cocaine and crack cocaine, according to the indictment.

Charles Smith used a Euclid residence to sell, process, and store cocaine and crack cocaine, according to the indictment.

Rogers and Smith would then sell cocaine and crack cocaine to dozens of other people, according to the indictment.

On January 6, 2012, John Campbell, Chase Downey, Francisco Rodriguez, and R.D. (a person known to the grand jury but not charged herein) met Charles Smith at the residence in Euclid and offered to sell him a kilogram of cocaine for $30,000, according to the indictment.

During the meeting, Rodriguez shot Smith twice and Campbell, Downey, and Rodriguez and took nearly 900 grams of cocaine, 300 grams of crack cocaine, and $30,000, according to the indictment.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors have charged Rodriguez, Downey, Campbell, and R.D. for those acts, as well as for the shootout with police that followed.

Federal prosecutors are also seeking to forfeit assets obtained directly or indirectly as a result of the violations or used to commit or facilitate the commission of the violations, including but not limited to, more than $93,000 in cash; nine firearms; a watch; jewelry; a Ford F150; and three homes.

“By following the money trail, special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation help to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations that attempt to conceal the true source of their money from the government,” said Darryl Williams, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-Criminal Investigation.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendants’ prior criminal record, if any; the defendants’ role in the offense; and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentences will not exceed the statutory maximum, and in most cases, they will be less than the minimum.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph M. Pinjuh and Adam Hollingsworth following an investigation by the Northern Ohio Law Enforcement Task Force (NOLETF).

The NOLETF is a long standing multi-agency task force comprised of investigators from the FBI; Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority; Drug Enforcement Administration; IRS; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service; Cleveland Division of Police; Cleveland Heights, Ohio Police Department; Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office; Euclid Police Department; Regional Transit Authority Police Department; Strongsville, Ohio Police Department; Westlake, Ohio Police Department; and Shaker Heights, Ohio Police Department. The NOLETF is also one of the initial Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) initiatives. The HIDTA Program supports and helps coordinate numerous Ohio drug task forces in their efforts to eliminate or reduce drug-trafficking in Ohio.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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