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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Chicago Man Sentenced To Over 30 Years In Federal Prison For Distributing Heroin Resulting In Overdose Death

A Cedar Rapids man who sold heroin that caused a heroin overdose death was sentenced today to more than 30 years in federal prison.

Ramon Cortez Freeman, age 35, from Chicago, Illinois, received the prison term after a November 24, 2014 guilty plea to distribution of heroin resulting in death, three counts of distributing heroin, and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

At the plea hearing, Freeman admitted he distributed heroin to another individual in January 2014 who used it and died of an overdose.  Freeman also admitted to distributing heroin in February and twice in July.  Officer Bryan Furman with the Cedar Rapids Police Department and DEA Task Force testified that the purity of heroin seized or purchased by DEA in eastern Iowa has substantially increased over the past five years.  Officer Furman testified that, historically, heroin distributors have “cut” their heroin with other substances to increase the quantity and generate more profits.  This “cutting” of the heroin resulted in heroin purities as low as 1% going to the ultimate users.  In recent years, however, a new heroin business model has apparently emerged in Cedar Rapids, as heroin seized or purchased by DEA has been testing as high as nearly 90% pure—even for smaller quantities of the type being used by addicts.  Because a common dosage unit for heroin is one-tenth of a gram or less—all of which is used at once—people using the extremely pure heroin are often unknowingly ingesting several times more of the drug than they intended.  The increase in heroin purity has coincided with the increases in reported overdoses and deaths from heroin in eastern Iowa.  Court documents reflect the heroin distributed by Freeman in February and July was determined to be around 70% pure.

In addition to the heroin charges, Freeman was sentenced for possessing a stolen .45 caliber pistol loaded with seven rounds of ammunition in April 2014.  Freeman had previously been convicted of three drug felonies in Chicago, Illinois.

Freeman was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade.  Freeman was sentenced to 365 months’ imprisonment on the death charge, 240 months’ imprisonment on the heroin distribution charges, and 120 months’ imprisonment on the firearm charge.  The sentences were all ordered to be run concurrently.  A special assessment of $500 was imposed, and he was ordered to make $9,782.84 in restitution to the family of the overdose victim.  He must also serve a 3-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

Freeman is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

The case was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program of the United States Department of Justice through a cooperative effort of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force consisting of the DEA, Linn County Sheriff's Office, Cedar Rapids and Marion Police Departments, Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, and the Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Chatham. 

Court file information is available at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.  The case file number is CR14-100-1-LRR.

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Updated March 5, 2015