AKRON, OH - First Assistant United States Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler announced that a federal jury convicted Branea Bryant, age 29, and Ramel Drew, age 44, both of Cleveland of drug trafficking offenses on Friday, March 17, in Akron, Ohio, following a two-week jury trial before Judge John R. Adams.
The jury convicted Branea Bryant of one count of Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute 400 Grams or More of Fentanyl, one count of Conspiracy to Launder Money, and three counts of Money Laundering. The jury convicted Ramel Drew of one count of Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute 400 Grams or More of Fentanyl, one count of Use of a Communications Facility to Facilitate Drug Trafficking, one count of Distribution of Fentanyl, and one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute 400 Grams or More of Fentanyl.
The following information is based on court documents and evidence presented at trial.
In 2021, the FBI learned that Branea Bryant’s brother, Brandon Bryant, and her boyfriend, Devonn Fair, were selling fentanyl to customers at various locations on the east side of Cleveland. Branea Bryant’s company, ADF3 Investments, LLC, owned a house on East 130th Street in Cleveland that Brandon Bryant was using to sell fentanyl.
Based upon a long term, multi-agency investigation, the FBI determined that Brandon Bryant and Devonn Fair were selling fentanyl to customers at multiple locations in Cleveland, and that Branea Bryant and Ramel Drew were involved in the drug trafficking conspiracy.
On August 31, 2021, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies executed search warrants at seven houses connected to the drug organization, and seized over a kilogram of fentanyl, numerous firearms, ammunition, high-speed money counters, drug presses, a vacuum-sealer used to package drugs and money, over $68,000 in cash, jewelry, and multiple high-end vehicles, including two Range Rovers and a Jaguar F-Type.
One of the houses searched on August 31st was on East 89th Street in Cleveland, which the FBI had identified as a location where customers came from as far away as Lorain County and Ashland County to buy fentanyl. The FBI recovered a DVR surveillance system from the East 89th Street house, which showed Ramel Drew, Devonn Fair, and codefendant Nathaniel Lightfoot engaging in drug transactions with customers in the driveway of the residence. Testimony at trial also established that Fair, Drew, and Lightfoot shared a cell phone that drug customers would call to arrange the drug purchases. Fair and Lightfoot previously pled guilty and are pending sentencing.
Investigation by the IRS showed that Branea Bryant’s company, ADF3 Investments, owned several high-end vehicles connected to the drug conspiracy, including two Range Rovers that had been purchased with drug money, and a Jaguar F-Type that was used to facilitate drug deals. At trial, the lead IRS investigator testified that ADF3 did not file any state or federal tax returns, and that it did not appear to engage in any kind of legitimate business activity. The IRS investigator also testified that ADF3’s bank accounts, which had been opened by Branea Bryant, were largely funded with cash deposits and that ADF3’s accounts had been used to make large purchases at designer stores like Gucci and Prada using Branea Bryant’s debit card.
Branea Bryant and Ramel Drew were among 24 defendants indicted in the case, which was the result of a coordinated effort by the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The other 22 defendants named in the indictment previously pled guilty.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Cartel, Gang, Narcotics, and Laundering Task Force (CGNL) and IRS Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the Cleveland Division of Police, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio Investigative Unit, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Cleveland Heights Police Department, the Southeast Area Law Enforcement Task Force (SEALE), the ATF, the U.S. Marshals Service, the DEA, and the Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory.
The case is was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Lewis, Joseph Dangelo, and James Morford.
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