Chicago man sentenced to over four years in federal prison for role in drug conspiracy
Comprehensive drug investigation led to seizure of over a million dollars in drug proceeds and a plane
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Chicago man was sentenced today to four years and a month in federal prison for his role in a drug trafficking conspiracy, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Richard Fleming previously pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the attempted distribution of 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. A total of 15 other individuals were successfully prosecuted as a result of the investigation. Additionally, law enforcement seized over a million dollars in drug proceeds and an airplane belonging to this drug trafficking organization.
U.S. Attorney Stuart commended the cooperative investigative efforts of several agencies, including the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team, the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Department in Ohio, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department in Ohio, the United States Marshals Service, the Kentucky State Police, the Indiana State Police, the Huntington Police Department, and the Policia Federal Ministerial of Mexico. U.S. Attorney Stuart further commended several Drug Enforcement Administration agents for their investigation this case, including agents from Charleston, Columbus, Phoenix, Tucson, Chicago, Denver, and Hermosillo, Mexico.
“Drug criminals who think they can avoid prison by fleeing the country are dead wrong. If you run, we will work with our law enforcement partners to hunt you down and bring you to justice,” said U.S. Attorney Stuart. “Public safety is a top priority of my office, and we will take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that drug traffickers get the punishment they deserve.”
Fleming admitted that he traveled to Putnam County on March 12, 2010, to pick up approximately $600,000 of drug proceeds from a March 5, 2010, shipment of over 300 kilograms of marijuana on behalf of a drug trafficking organization operating out of Arizona and Mexico. Unbeknownst to Fleming and the drug trafficking organization, law enforcement intercepted the marijuana before it could be delivered. When Fleming arrived in Putnam County to pick up the cash, he actually met with an undercover officer who provided him with a duffel bag he represented contained approximately $600,000 in drug proceeds. Fleming then left the area and began travelling back to provide the money to other members of the drug trafficking organization. A traffic stop was conducted on Fleming’s vehicle in Kentucky and the duffel bag was recovered.
Fleming was originally charged in July 2010 and released on bond. On September 7, 2011, he failed to appear for his trial and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. Fleming remained a fugitive until he was arrested in Mexico in August 2017. He admitted that he fled the United States to avoid prosecution in this case.
Assistant United States Attorney Monica D. Coleman is in charge of the prosecution. United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers imposed the sentence.
This case was brought as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of illegal drugs. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of illegal drugs in communities across the Southern District.