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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Ohio

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cincinnati Drug Ring Members Plead Guilty to Related Charges

CINCINNATI – Defendants involved in a major cocaine and heroin trafficking ring have pleaded guilty to related charges in U.S. District Court.

Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Field Division, Guy A. Ficco, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office and Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot K. Isaac, announced the final plea entered into yesterday before United States District Court Judge Timothy S. Black.

According to court documents, the defendants were charged in April 2015 in a 23-count indictment. The indictment outlined that the group conspired to facilitate an illegal drug business, primarily cocaine and heroin.

It was further part of the conspiracy that the defendants operated “stash” houses to process, cut, package and store the drugs as well as firearms and money. In order to conceal the money generated from the drug sales, defendants would launder the profits by purchasing real and personal property and place assets in the names of other individuals.

Upon executing search warrants in this case, investigators discovered more than $1 million in cash at the properties maintained by the narcotics trafficking organization.

Also included in forfeiture in this case are: seven firearms, three properties in Cincinnati, five vehicles including two luxury vehicles and a motorcycle, multiple pieces of jewelry, Gucci and Rolex watches, two ballistic vests, a number of “mink” fur coats and vests, 13 designer handbags and Beats headphones and ear buds.

The defendants and the charges to which they pled guilty include:


Name                             Age                 Residence                      Pleaded to                                                      Potential sentence

Christopher Whitfield     42                   Cincinnati                        Conspiracy to commit money laundering       20 years in prison

Tonia Whitfield               41                   Cincinnati                        Money laundering (3counts)                          20 years in prison per count

Steven Griffin                 40                   Cincinnati                        Possession with intent to distribute               40 years in prison; 10 years in prison

                                                                                                      herion; felon in possession of a firearm

Icierra Martin-Bronson   38                   Cincinnati                        Money laundering (2counts)                          20 years in prison


Griffin was sentenced on January 13, 2015 to 87 months in prison. Tonia Whitfield was sentenced on December 14, 2015 to 12 months and one day in prison.

“IRS Criminal Investigation follows the money so we can financially disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations, especially when individuals attempt to conceal the true source of their money,” said Guy A. Ficco, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS, Criminal Investigation. “Today's announcement is a direct result of the excellent partnership IRS, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and the Cincinnati Police Department has in combating major drug trafficking organizations, which have such a negative impact on our community."

U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the cooperative investigation by local and federal law enforcement, including the IRS, FBI and Cincinnati Police Department, as well as Assistant United States Attorneys Karl Kadon and Jessica W. Knight, who are representing the United States in this case. 

Drug Trafficking
Updated February 2, 2016