By Steve Birr
Authorities charged two Mexican nationals Tuesday after agents made what is thought to be the largest methamphetamine seizure in Ohio’s history.
Agents also arrested 36-year-old Cleveland resident Tyrone Rogers, who allegedly helped ferry 26-year-old Hector Manuel Ramos-Nevarez and 24-year-old Gilbert Treviso-Garcia to various locations in the state. All three men face a charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Ohio.
Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration executed a search warrant at a Hudson, OH, residence on March 21, where they seized 82 pounds of crystal meth. A subsequent search of the same residence yielded an additional 60 pounds of liquid meth.
“Although we in Northeast Ohio are far from the border, these cases demonstrate that the threat posed by Mexican criminal organizations to our region is very real,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said in a statement Tuesday. “International drug trafficking organizations are active right here in our backyard, and they seek to profit from the misery of our friends and neighbors struggling with addiction. The destruction caused by heroin and fentanyl is well documented, and now we are seeing an influx of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine.”
Authorities arrested another Mexican national, 54-year-old Octavio Barragan-Manzo, for trafficking 44 pounds of heroin in Ohio the same week as the methamphetamine bust. Officials charged Barragan-Manzo Tuesday for possession with intent to distribute heroin.
Large quantities of narcotics continue to infiltrate the U.S. due to the relentless efforts of drug traffickers taking advantage of America’s deteriorating opioid epidemic.
Federal authorities recently charged 75 people for money laundering and narcotics trafficking, including fentanyl, linked to the Sinaloa Cartel.
The U.S. Department of Justice unsealed 40 indictments March 8 in a San Diego federal court, detailing how a network of individuals conspired to launder tens of millions of dollars in drug cash between 2015 and 2018. Another 35 people were charged over the course of the DOJ’s multi-year investigation into the organization’s criminal activity.
The conspirators used a network of “funnel” bank accounts to allow money movers to deposit bulk quantities of cash into domestic bank accounts. The funds would be wire-transferred to bank accounts linked to fake businesses in Mexico the cartel controlled. Bulk amounts of cash were also smuggled in vehicle compartments, duffel bags and shoeboxes.
Undercover FBI agents and the local drug task force infiltrated the money laundering organization and gained its leaders’ trust. They eventually let the agents act as money movers. The agents picked up bulk shipments of cash in regions throughout the U.S. over the course of a two-year investigation.
Amid the multi-year investigation, authorities confiscated $6 million in drug money, 209 pounds of methamphetamine, 138 pounds of heroin, 22 pounds of fentanyl, 202 pounds of cocaine, 555 pounds of marijuana and 20 firearms.
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016.