Cleveland man guilty of conspiracy, last of 60 convicted for bringing heroin to Cleveland from Atlanta and Chicago
A Cleveland man was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and related charges following a week-long trial.
Keith Ricks, 33, is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko on Sept. 14. He faces a potential sentence of life in prison.
Ricks is the last of 60 people to be found guilty in federal court for their roles in a conspiracy to bring heroin from Chicago and Atlanta and sell it throughout Greater Cleveland between 2011 and 2013.
Ricks and others obtained heroin from suppliers in Atlanta and transported the drugs to Cleveland by mail or car. Ricks and others also pooled their money to obtain heroin from Atlanta. Ricks then distributed the heroin to other traffickers in Cleveland, according to trial testimony and court documents.
Ricks, Maceo Moore, Leamon Shephard and others also planned and committed burglaries and robberies from other drug dealers, customers, and each other. This was done to fund their drug trafficking, to obtain heroin and other drugs, and to collect drug debts, according to trial testimoney.
The men then sold the stolen heroin at discounted prices or used the stolen money to obtain heroin. They identified potential victims through a variety of ways, including targeting those who appeared to have expensive jewelry or cars or by using women to gather information about potential victims and report back to them. They sometimes used firearms or zipties to restrain victims, according to trial testimony and court documents.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew W. Shepherd, Daniel J. Riedl, and Matthew B. Kall, following a multi-year investigation by the Northern Ohio Law Enforcement Task Force (NOLETF).
The NOLETF is a longstanding multi-agency task force comprised of investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, Cleveland Division of Police, Cleveland Heights Police Department, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Euclid Police Department, Regional Transit Authority Police Department, Westlake Police Department, and Shaker Heights Police Department. 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 investigation was assisted by the Hotel Interdiction Team, another HIDTA initiative composed of members of the FBI, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, and police departments from Broadview Heights, Brooklyn, Brook Park, and Independence.