CLEVELAND, OH – A federal grand jury returned a 50-count indictment against 28 people who are accused of participating in a large cocaine trafficking ring operating in the Ashtabula, Ohio area since 2008. Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Robert L. Corso, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and William Johnson, Ashtabula County Sheriff, made the announcement today.
Law enforcement personnel seized more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than $267,000 in U.S. currency during the year-long investigation. Six handguns belonging to coconspirators were also confiscated.
From January 2008 to September 8, 2010, defendants Francisco Felix-Felix, Ricardo Apodaca, Jose Miguel Cardenas, and Carlos Felix arranged for multiple kilogram quantities of cocaine to be brought into Northeast Ohio, including to a house on Plymouth Road in Eastlake, Ohio, according to the indictment.
Those defendants, along with Oscar Batres Jr. and Exiquio Felix-Beltran, then delivered the cocaine to Shawn Decola, of Ashtabula, according to the indictment.
The co-conspirators often used vehicles with hidden compartments to transport the cocaine, and to transport sums of cash used to pay for the cocaine, according to the indictment. The indictment further alleges that upon receipt of the cocaine, Decola resold it to various individuals, to include defendants Isaac Coleman, Marcus Dennis, Desmond Triplin, as well as Chris Dyer and William Saad Bradley, who in turn resold the cocaine to other co-conspirators in the Ashtabula area.
The co-conspirators from time to time also “cooked,” or converted quantities of powder cocaine into cocaine base (crack) and then sold the crack cocaine to other co-conspirators and to crack users.
“These defendants brought lots of cocaine into Northeast Ohio and then pushed it out onto the streets of Ashtabula,” Dettelbach said. “They now face significant sentences in the federal system for selling this poison in our community.”
The individuals charged in the indictment are:
FRANCISCO FELIX-FELIX, 36 Mesa, Arizona; RICARDO APODACA 35 Lexxon, California; JOSE MIGUEL CARDENAS, 22, Pico Rivera, California; CARLOS FELIX, 23, Moreno Valley, California; OSCAR BATRES JR. 25, Phoenix, Arizona; EXIQUIO FELIX-BELTRAN 49, Unknown; ISAAC COLEMAN, 31, Ashtabula, Ohio; MARCUS DENNIS, 41, Cleveland Heights, Ohio; DESMOND TRIPLIN, 25, Ashtabula, Ohio; ERIC DUNCAN DERRICOATTE 30, Ashtabula, Ohio; JAMES DYER, 24, Ashtabula, Ohio; CLARENCE FRANKLIN, 38, Ashtabula, OH; JASON BOLES, 30, Unknown; LEROY DERRICOATTE 33, Ashtabula, OH; JASHON HUNT, 31, Ashtabula, OH; JOHN EVANS, 32, Ashtabula, OH; JIMMIE RUTH III, 32, Ashtabula, OH; CHRISTOPHER MILLER, 35, Kingsville, OH; JESSE MCDOWELL JR., 30, Ashtabula, OH; ANTONIO PARKER, 22, Ashtabula, OH; DANIEL HAMILTON JR., 25, Ashtabula, OH; RICKY JACKSON, 57, Ashtabula, OH; TERRANCE JACKSON, 36, Ashtabula, OH; ARTHUR EZELL JR., 19, Ashtabula, OH; MATT DONAHUE, 26, Ashtabula, OH; MARLON SPIKES, 38, Painesville, OH; NICHELLE SPIKES, 43, Painesville, OH; TAQUELLA HOSKIN, 36, Ashtabula, OH.
Count 1 of the indictment charges 27 of the 28 defendants (excluding Nichelle Spikes) with conspiracy to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine and 50 grams or more of cocaine base (crack).
Counts 2 and 3 of the indictment charge Matt Donahue, Marlon Spikes and Nichelle Spikes with knowingly and intentionally distributing or possessing with intent to distribute 164 grams or more of cocaine.
Count 4 of the indictment charges Francisco Felix-Felix with attempting to distribute approximately three kilograms of cocaine.
Counts 5 and 6 of the indictment charge James Dyer and Christopher Miller, respectively, with knowingly and intentionally possessing with intent to distribute approximately 8 grams of cocaine base (crack) and 24 grams of cocaine.
Counts 7-50 of the indictment charge each defendant (with the exception of Ricardo Apodaca, Jose Miguel Cardenas, Oscar Batres Jr., Exiquio Felix-Beltran, and Isaac Coleman) with using a communications facility (a telephone) to facilitate a drug trafficking offense.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph P. Schmitz and Chelsea S. Rice following a one-year investigation code named “Operation Bula Ballers.” The investigation was conducted by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office, the Ashtabula Police Department, the Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), the Lake County Narcotics Agency, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
An indictment is only 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.