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Press Release

Twenty-six people indicted for their roles in two conspiracies to bring drugs – including fentanyl, heroin and cocaine – to Northeast Ohio

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio

Twenty-six people were indicted in federal court for their roles in two separate conspiracies to bring large amounts of drugs – including fentanyl, heroin and cocaine – to Northeast Ohio, law enforcement officials said.


Fifteen people were charged in a 29-count indictment with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and U-47700 (a fentanyl analogue). They are: Irwin Jose Vargas, 42, of Euclid; Keyra Linnette Martinez, 42, of Euclid; Irwing Vargas Rosario, 24, of Cleveland; Isidoro M. Gonzalez, 41, of Cleveland; Alcides Garcia, 46, of Ponce, Puerto Rice; Austin Natale, 27, of Cleveland; Kayle Mae Jonela, 22, of Brook Park; Rosemary Howell, 55, of Cleveland; Dennis Mansfield, 58, of Cleveland; William Rodriguez, 41, of Cleveland; Jeffrey Mack, 44, of Cleveland; Victor Felix, 39, of Cleveland; Nelson Benitez, Jr., 34, of Cleveland; Thomas Lopez, 39, of Cleveland, and Edgar Arroyo, 37, of Cleveland.


Twelve people were charged in a 26-count indictment with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, N-Ethyl Pentalone (an analogue to MDMA or “molly”) and marijuana. They are: Emad Silmi, 43, of North Olmsted; Christopher Young, 46, of Westlake; Herbert Shaw, 44, of Cleveland; Samer Abu-Kwaik, 46, of Cleveland; Nelson Benitez, Jr., 34, of Cleveland; Jonathan Smith, 34, of Lathrup Village, Mich.; John D. Ciarlillo, 42, of Medina; Anthony Quinn Greenlee, 26, of Huron; Santana Jones, 22, of Cleveland; Gregory Lowery, 32, of Painesville; Mogahed Mustafa, 30, of North Olmsted, and Erkan Nevzadi, 29, of Cleveland.


Benitez is charged in both indictments.


“These groups brought hundreds of pounds of dangerous drugs into Northeast Ohio and sold them throughout our community,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said. “We will continue to work collaboratively to shut off the flow of drugs and seek long prison sentences for traffickers.”


“This long term investigation was aimed at stopping dangerous drugs from flowing into our city and streets, and holding accountable those that choose to illegally pollute our communities.  Heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and synthetic opioids were among the drugs seized, and the FBI, along with our many law enforcement partners, are committed to working to defeat this menacing threat one drug trafficking organization at a time."


"This investigation was the culmination of strong relationships between the various law enforcement partners,” Cuyahoga County Sheriff Cliff Pinckney said. “The Sheriff's Department will always vigorously pursue drug traffickers in conjunction with this partnership."

“Today's massive take down marks a major step forward in combating illegal opiate sales within the city of Cleveland,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said. “As you can see from this joint effort, law-enforcement remains committed to erasing this problem in Northeast Ohio.  Further, we encourage anyone battling addiction to utilize the many resources that are available and to strive to get well.” 


Vargas, Martinez and Gonzales arranged for shipments of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine from Puerto Rico between 2016 and the present. These shipments included at least a kilogram of fentanyl, a kilogram of heroin and five kilograms of cocaine. Many of these shipments came through the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS, according to the indictment.


Vargas, Martinez, Gonzales and Rosario then sold the drugs to other drug traffickers in Cleveland. Members of the conspiracy used several locations in Greater Cleveland to receive, store and distribute the drugs, including: 4705 Bridge Ave. (Vargas’ business, Santiago Auto Care Services, also known as Capu Auto and Sound); 6841 Day Drive, Apartment 605, in Parma and 754 Hemlock Drive in Euclid (Vargas’ and Martinez’s residences); 3871 Ridge Road (Gonzales’ business, Ways to Save Auto Sales); 5601 Wichita Ave. (Gonzales’ residence) and 11901 Lena Ave. (Howell’s and Mansfield’s residence), according to the indictment.


Vargas and Martinez often used the U.S. Postal Service online system to track shipments of parcels sent to Northeast Ohio from Puerto Rico, as well as packages shipped from China to Puerto Rico, according to the indictment


In the second conspiracy, Silmi obtained large amounts of cocaine from Abu-Kwaik and then sold it to other drug dealers from his business Global Auto Body & Collision at 4317 W. 130th Street. He also obtained large amounts of N-Ethyl Pentylone – an analogue of “molly” – from Greenlee, which Greenlee had obtained from suppliers in China. Silmi sold the molly analogue to other dealers from his Cleveland auto body shop, according to the indictment.


Silmi obtained at least five kilograms of cocaine and more than 100 kilograms of marijuana between January 2016 and March 2017, according to the indictment.


Greenlee used 3006 Cleveland Road West, Apartment 8 in Huron (his residence) and U.S. Motor Sales at 4927 Brookpark Road in Parma (his business) to store and distribute drugs. Kwaik used U.S. Motor Sales at 4927 Brookpark Road, Parma, Ohio (his business) and 7358 Meadow Lane, Parma, Ohio (his residence) to store and distribute drugs, according to the indictment.


Greenlee and Nevzadi used firearms, ammunition and other weapons to protect their drug trafficking activities, according to the indictment.


Silmi is also charged with conspiracy to launder money as part of an effort to hide his drug profits, according to the indictment.


If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violations.  In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.


The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, Cleveland Division of Police, the IRS, and members of the Northern Ohio Law Enforcement Task Force and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area personnel.


The NOLETF is a long standing multi-agency task force comprised of investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the police departments of Broadview Heights, Brooklyn Heights, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, Euclid, Independence, North Royalton, the Regional Transit Authority, Westlake and Shaker Heights. 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 cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S Attorney Matthew J. Cronin.


An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


Mike Tobin

Updated December 7, 2017

Drug Trafficking