17 Indicted In California To Northeast Ohio Drug Ring


Cleveland, OH - Seventeen people were indicted in federal court for their roles in a conspiracy to bring large amounts of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana from California to the Cleveland area and sell the drugs here.

Named in the 30-count indictment are: Brandon Fletcher, 35, of Warrensville Heights; Edgar Arturo Sanchez, 27, of Paramount, California; Stephon Carter, 34, of Cleveland; Donnie Palmer, 34, of Cleveland Heights; Kevin Philmon, 37, of Cleveland; Wayne Nix, 27, of Warrensville Heights; Robert Hawes, 46, of Bedford; Antonn Melton, 37, of Maple Heights; Kevin Williams, 34, of Euclid; Robert Pollard, 29, of Lithonia, Georgia; Freddie Murphy, 33, of Cleveland; Eric Armstrong, 58, of South Euclid; Jamill McDonald, 37, of Cleveland Heights; Steven Bouyer, 52, of Cleveland; Darcell Jackson, 32, of Euclid; Lonnie Jordan, 29, of Maple Heights, and DeWitt Chisholm, 38, of Warrensville Heights.

“At a time when a record number of our neighbors were dying from drug overdoses, this organization allegedly brought in large amounts of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine from California and sold it all over Northeast Ohio,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. “Some members of the conspiracy used rifles and other firearms to protect their products while others laundered tens of thousands of dollars in drug money.”

"Illegal drug activity brings danger to our communities - it will not be tolerated," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith. "Collaborative law enforcement efforts will continue to identify and disrupt drug trafficking organizations bringing violence to our streets." 

“Working together with our law enforcement partners throughout Northeast Ohio, along with the US Attorney‘s Office, we are able to conduct large scale operations and get amazing results,” said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin D. Williams. “This latest indictment of multiple suspects only cements these collaborative efforts as imperative to effective policing today.”

According to the indictment:

Fletcher received kilogram shipments of cocaine, heroin and marijuana from California, from Sanchez and other suppliers. Fletcher arranged for the drugs to be transported to the Cleveland area via domestic shipping carriers.

Carter, at Fletcher’s direction, collected the drug shipments and then delivered the cocaine, heroin and marijuana to Fletcher’s customers, including Nix, Philmon, Hawes, Pollard, Williams and others.

Nix received ounce quantities of cocaine from Melton, and redistributed cocaine, heroin and fentanyl to Chisholm, Murphy, Armstrong, McDonald, Bouyer, Jackson, Jordan and others. Those people then resold the drugs to customers in Northeast Ohio.

Nix is also charged with maintaining a drug premises for using residence on Berrimore Lane in Warrensville Heights to store, process and sell cocaine, fentanyl and other drugs. Additionally, Nix is charged with being a felon on possession of a firearm for having a Taurus 9 mm and ammunition despite several prior drug convictions.

Philmon is charged with maintaining a drug premises for using his residence at the Colony Apartments on Van Aken Boulevard in Cleveland to store, process and sell powder and crack cocaine. He is also charged with possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Philmon had an Eagle Arms M-15 and ammunition at his apartment despite previous drug convictions.

Carter collected drug proceeds at Fletcher’s direction, and, along with Palmer, stored the money.

Fletcher and Carter charged with conspiracy to launder money. Carter, at Fletcher’s direction, met with California-based members of the drug trafficking organization and provided tens of thousands of dollars worth of drug proceeds. He also mailed them drug proceeds, sometimes concealed in musical instruments.

This conspiracy took place between August 2016 through November 2017, according to the indictment.

If convicted, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.

The case was investigated by the Northern Ohio Law Enforcement Task Force (NOLETF) and SouthEast Area Law Enforcement Narcotics Task Force, a collaboration of police departments including Bedford, Bedford Heights, Garfield Heights, Maple Heights, Solon, Oakwood and Walton Hills.

The NOLETF is a long standing multi-agency task force comprised of investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the police departments of Broadview Heights, Brooklyn Heights, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, Euclid, Independence, North Royalton, the Regional Transit Authority, Westlake and Shaker Heights. The NOLETF is also one of the initial Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) initiatives. HIDTA supports and helps coordinate numerous Ohio drug task forces in their efforts to eliminate or reduce drug trafficking in Ohio.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Sweeney.

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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