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Press Release

Two Mexican nationals charged in federal court after seizure of 200 pounds of cocaine

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

Two men from Mexico were charged in U.S. District Court after law enforcement personnel seized more than 200 pounds of cocaine in Cleveland.

Antonio Navarro-Gaytan and Alejandro Cota-Luna are scheduled to appear in federal court Wednesday afternoon. They have been charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

“Taking more than 200 pounds of cocaine off the streets helps make our community safer and stronger,” U.S. Attorney Carole S. Rendon said. “The DEA, Cleveland Police and all the law enforcement agencies that worked on this case did an outstanding job.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Plancon said: “This is one of the largest cocaine seizures in Ohio in the past decade. Disrupting the flow of illegal drugs into our communities, and stopping the distribution of those drugs continues to be DEA and our partners’ top priority.  A seizure of cocaine this large, should also serve as a reminder that cocaine is dangerous and deadly, and continues to be a major drug of abuse in our society.”  

“The hard work and dedication of many officers and agents from multiple law enforcement agencies can be seen in the outcome of this thorough investigation,” said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams. “This large-scale seizure means less drugs on our streets and makes our community safer. I am proud of the partnership that the Cleveland Division of Police shares with our law enforcement partners.”

“I am extremely proud of this task force, specifically the work of our assigned deputy,” said Cuyahoga County Sheriff Clifford Pinkney. “Large busts such as this underscore the importance of collaboration between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, and demonstrates the strong relationships we have in here Northeast Ohio.”

According to an affidavit filed today in federal court:

DEA agents received information on Sept. 2 that a semi tractor-trailer with California license plates was expected to come to the Cleveland area from the Baltimore area to deliver drugs or pick up money associated with drug dealing. They located the tractor in a fenced lot at a large commercial building at 17877 St. Clair Ave.

Investigators observed a Nissan sedan occupied by the defendants pull into the parking lot of the building. The defendants then appeared to work on the trailer and then take items from the trunk of the Nissan and put them in the trailer.

Navarro-Gaytan and Cota-Luna then went to a nearby gas station, then headed westbound on Interstate 90, where they were pulled over for speeding and eventually arrested. A subsequent search of the trailer 92 rectangular bricks, each containing approximately one kilogram of cocaine.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Duncan Brown following an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Cleveland Division of Police, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, Cleveland Heights Police Department, Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office, Summit County Drug Unit, Lake County Narcotics Agency, Lorain County Drug Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after reviewing 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 violation.  In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

A charges is not evidence of guilt.  Defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated September 7, 2016

Drug Trafficking