Akron man guilty of leading conspiracy to bring fentanyl and carfentanil into the U.S. from China, sell the drugs in Akron and Lorain, then launder the profits
An Akron man pleaded guilty to leading a conspiracy to bring large amounts of fentanyl and carfentanil into the United States from China, then sell the drugs in Akron and Lorain, then launder the profits.
Donte L. Gibson, 40, is scheduled to be sentenced September 23. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl and carfentanil and conspiracy to launder money.
This took place between May 2016 and February 2018, according to court documents.
Donte and Audrey Gibson purchased fentanyl and carfentanil from China over the internet, and had the drugs shipped to locations in the Akron-Canton area through the U.S. Postal Service. They directed others to open post office boxes throughout the area, and Audrey Gibson retained control of all the post office box keys, according to court documents.
Co-conspirators picked up the packages containing fentanyl and carfentanil at the P.O. boxes and brought the packages to the Gibsons’ home on Popham Street. Donte Gibson cut the drugs with other white powder, turning 70 or 80 grams of pure fentanyl or carfentanil into seven kilograms of saleable product, according to court documents.
The Gibsons then distributed the drugs to others for sale in Akron and Lorain. The Gibsons used various residences and storage units to store the drugs and cash. They stored the drugs at their home on Popham Street, according to court documents.
Audrey Gibson in 2015 formed JayT AllServices LLC, which purported to be in the business of remodeling, painting homes and cleaning out homes. Donte Gibson later stated that he was an employee of the his wife’s company and that he helps do home improvement work, according to court documents.
In 2016, Audrey Gibson formed Pound Cake Entertainment LLC, which used the web site IAmPoundCake.com. The web site purported to sell clothing and “one of a kind items” as well as offering access to a members-only Snapchat account featuring Audrey Gibson “being flirty or nasty depending on the day,” according to court documents.
In 2017, Dontaysha Gibson formed G’s Car Care and Detail LLC, with the stated purpose of the company being car care sales and detailing. Donte Gibson later stated it was his daughter’s company but that he managed it for her, according to court documents.
The Gibsons opened bank accounts in connection to all three companies, according to court documents.
Audrey Gibson in 2017 opened a Saks Fifth Avenue Store Card and between April and December 2017 made payments on her card totaling $208,504 by using cash in store in Beachwood. She made purchases from Saks Fifth Avenue totaling $686,850 between July 2016 and February 2018 and paid for them with a combination of cash, credit cards and her Saks card. The purchases included handbags from Burberry, Chanel and Gucci, various Louis Vuitton items, Saint Laurent shoes, as well as cosmetics, fragrances and sunglasses, according to court documents.
Prosecutors are seeking to forfeit more than $280,000 in cash, two firearms and ammunition seized as part of the investigation, as well as the home at 2946 Popham Street in Akron.
Audrey Gibson previously pleaded guilty to related crimes and is awaiting sentencing.
“This defendant brought huge quantities of deadly fentanyl and carfentanil into Akron, threatening the lives of so many of our neighbors, friends, and family,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. “They set up fake companies to launder their dirty drug money and now will have to answer for his crimes”
“This case demonstrates the lengths drug dealers will go to in order to obtain deadly drugs to feed the addiction of their customers,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith. “This group flaunted their lucrative drug trafficking organization proceeds by purchasing homes, cars and other items in an attempt to hide their cash. The FBI will continue working with our law enforcement partners to help rid our communities of the individuals that bring poison to our streets.”
“The harm inflicted by opioids is matched only by the profit potential for those who sell them,” said William Cheung, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. "This is an important victory for the citizens of Northern Ohio. These defendants not only fueled the opioid drug problem in Northern Ohio, but they supported addiction in several parts of the country. IRS-CI worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and its law enforcement partners to disrupt the flow of money -- the lifeblood that allows these organizations to proliferate. The laundering of illegal drug profits is as important and essential to drug traffickers as the very distribution of their illegal drugs. Without these ill-gotten gains, the traffickers could not finance their organizations.”
“Fentanyl and carfentanil are by far the deadliest illegal drugs that we are up against in the law enforcement community,” said HSI Acting Special Agent in Charge Angie Salazar. “As this indictment clearly demonstrates, HSI is fully committed to bringing to justice all of the criminal groups and individuals who distribute this lethal poison in our community.”
Akron Police Chief Kenneth Ball said: “I feel a strong sense of relief knowing that a group of criminals that had a major role in the city's battle against drugs, and the companion, devastating effects of addiction, will be held accountable. I am proud of the work of Akron's team and our partners with the Safe Streets Task Force. Gibson and his conspirators have been justly charged, they now need to be justly tried and sentenced.”
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force -- which is comprised of agents and officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service and the Akron Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark S. Bennett.