Daily Court Reporter - News Man sentenced to more than 16 years in prison for leading conspiracy that brought fentanyl, heroin and cocaine to Northeast Ohio from Chicago and New York
Man sentenced to more than 16 years in prison for leading conspiracy that brought fentanyl, heroin and cocaine to Northeast Ohio from Chicago and New York
A Warrensville Heights man was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison for helping lead a conspiracy that brought large amounts of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine into Greater Cleveland from Chicago and Yonkers, New York.
Alfonso Rodrigo, 37, was sentenced to 200 months in federal prison. He was one of nearly 20 people prosecuted as part of Operation Loaded Deck. Law enforcement seized 29 kilograms of cocaine, eight kilograms of heroin and one kilogram of fentanyl, as well as $350,000 and several firearms as part of the investigation.
Some of these conspirators had significant links to the Sinaloa cartel. Among the defendants sentenced thus far:
Ismael Acosta, 39, of Cleveland Heights, to 190 months in prison.
David Urrabazo Maldonado, 31, of Medera, California, to 120 months in prison.
Jonathan Stepp, 34, of Cleveland, to 108 months in prison.
Jose Hernandez, 57, of Chicago, to 57 months in prison.
The defendants conspired together from 2010 through 2016 to obtain fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and marijuana from suppliers in Chicago and Yonkers, N.Y. and then sell the drugs in Northeast Ohio.
Acosta obtained heroin from suppliers in Chicago. Jose Hernandez supplied vehicles with after-market trap compartments to transport hidden drugs and drug proceeds. The conspirators used a home on West 130th Street in Cleveland to store and distribute the drugs and drug money. The Rodrigos used a house on Maple Heights Boulevard in Maple Heights to store and distribute drugs and drug money, according to court documents.
“Cocoa plants don't grow in Cleveland and poppy plants don't grow in Parma," said Justin Herdman, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “We increasingly see the Mexican cartels sending deadly narcotics into our region, and that was certainly true in this case.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Plancon said: “The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Operation Loaded Deck exposed a network of violent drug cartel members who controlled a pipeline of cocaine and fentanyl from Mexico and Phoenix to Cleveland, along with several other major American cities including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta and New York. The DEA, along with our federal, state, and local partners, has ruptured that pipeline to impede the flow of poison this organization was pushing onto our streets. This collaborative law enforcement effort sends a clear message that we have zero tolerance for drug dealers and their violence in northern Ohio. This investigation has demonstrated DEA’s resolve to dismantle criminal organizations such as this, and to reduce violent crimes and drug related activities in our community.”
“The laundering of illegal drug profits is as important and essential to drug traffickers as the very distribution of their illegal drugs,” said Ryan Korner, IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge. “Without these ill-gotten gains, the traffickers could not finance their organizations. IRS-CI is committed to taking the profit away from the drug traffickers and putting those individuals in jail.”
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert F. Corts and Marisa Darden following an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations.
About the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio
The Department of Justice is the nation's litigator, serving but one client, the United States. The United States Attorneys serve as the Department's principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. There are 93 United States Attorneys stationed in judicial districts throughout the United States and its territories. United States Attorneys are appointed by, and serve at the discretion of the President of the United States, with advice and consent of the United States Senate. Each United States Attorney is the Chief Federal Law Enforcement Officer of the United States within his or her particular jurisdiction.
United States Attorneys conduct most of the trial work in which the United States is a party. The United States Attorneys have three statutory responsibilities under Title 28, Section 507 of the United States Code:
the prosecution of criminal cases brought by the Federal Government;
the prosecution and defense of civil cases in which the United States is a party; and
the collection of debt owed to the Federal Government.
Although the caseload varies among districts, each has every category of cases and handles a mixture of simple and complex litigation. Each United States Attorney exercises wide discretion in the use of his or her resources to further the priorities of the local jurisdictions and needs of their communities.
The Northern District of Ohio consists of the 40 northern counties in Ohio. The U.S. Attorney's office (USAO) for the district is located in Cleveland, Ohio and there are staffed branch offices in Toledo, Akron and Youngstown. The office is divided into organizational units with specific responsibility for carrying out the mission of the office.
Date Published: June 21, 2018