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Federal investigation uncovers massive Sinaloa Cartel operation in Northeast Ohio

May 14, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Federal investigation uncovers massive Sinaloa Cartel operation in Northeast Ohio

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Three-year federal investigation resulting in 19 convictions revealed how Sinaloa Cartel moved into Northeast Ohio

A federal investigation has uncovered how the Sinaloa drug cartel, once led by one of the most wanted men across the globe, Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman has maintained control of the drug trade in Northeast Ohio.

Authorities say a multi-year probe uncovered an elaborate drug-trafficking network that has transported large amounts of drugs from Mexico to the streets of Ohio.

“I don’t think people understand how significant and embedded it is in Northeast Ohio,” Keith Martin, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of Cleveland’s DEA, told News5 Cleveland.

Officials recently uncovered a stash house in the Maple Heights neighborhood and another on the west side of Cleveland.

“The fact is the drugs on our streets come from somewhere. Coco plants don’t grow in Cleveland. Poppy plants don’t grow in Parma, they come from somewhere else. They are, in almost every case, coming from Mexican cartels,” Justin Herdman, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, stated.

A three-year-long DEA probe, named “Operation Loaded Deck,” targeted the take down the local arm of the infamous Sinaloa cartel.

During the investigation, authorities seized large amounts of heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl, some of which were hidden in compartments in vehicles. The drugs were transported across the U.S.-Mexican border.

“Often, they’ll go to great lengths, whether they’ve constructed a trap in a vehicle or a void in the vehicle,” Major Gene Smith with the Ohio State Highway Patrol added.

Just as shocking, cartel associates were hiding in plain sight the whole time, even attending a Cavaliers game and sitting courtside.

“These aren’t street-level dealers, they were dealing in massive quantities and huge amounts of cash,” Herdman said.

By the conclusion of the investigation, 29 kilos of cocaine, eight kilos of heroin, a kilo of fentanyl and four pounds of marijuana were confiscated, along with close to $350,000, firearms, vehicles, and dozens of phones.

Operation Loaded Deck ended with 19 people in federal prison for their participation in the drug trafficking enterprise.

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