FBI Cleveland
Public Affairs Officer Susan Licate
February 4, 2023

FBI Cleveland Cartel Gang Narcotics & Laundering Task Force Announces Seizure of 88 Pounds of Drugs Valued at $5.2 Million and the Arrest of Two Drug Trafficking Organization Operatives

CLEVELAND, OH The FBI Cleveland Cartel Gang Narcotics & Laundering Task Force (CGNL Task Force) announce the recent seizure of 36 kilograms of suspected fentanyl and other drugs stemming from a series of search warrants executed earlier this week in Painesville and Cleveland. Additional kilos were confirmed as Fentanyl from this organization earlier in the investigation bringing the total to 40 kilos (88 pounds) seized. “The sheer volume of drugs recovered during this seizure is astounding. Identifying, investigating, and apprehending drug traffickers and the networks in which they work are one of the highest priorities of the FBI,” said FBI Cleveland Special Agent in Charge Gregory Nelsen.

“We appreciate the collaboration with our federal, state, and local agencies. This operation underscores the immense coordination that is necessary to thwart drug trafficking networks from infiltrating our communities and endangering the public.”

The large-scale long-term investigation into the Ohio arm of the drug trafficking organization supplied by a nationwide distribution network based out of Mexico was a collaborative effort comprised of federal, State, and local partners from agencies in multiple States. The operation also yielded the arrest of two of the organization’s operatives and seized four firearms, including two assault rifles.

“I commend the efforts of the FBI Cleveland Cartel Gang Narcotics & Laundering Task force for the stellar results of this successful initiative,” said Cleveland Police Chief Wayne Drummond. “Fentanyl is a poison affecting the lives of countless Ohioans and Americans. An investigation of this magnitude is a significant indicator of what is accomplished through strategic, partnered law enforcement initiatives.”

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 30-50 times more potent than heroin. Typically, it takes only about 2mg of fentanyl to kill a human. The net amount of fentanyl in this operation would be enough to kill 20 million people and carries a street value of $5,200,000.

“The success of this initiative is undoubtedly the result of the tireless efforts of everyone on the task force,” said Colonel Charles A. Jones, Ohio State Highway Patrol superintendent. “Through collaborations such as this, we can collectively focus on our shared mission of making our communities safer.”

The Cartel Gang Narcotics & Laundering Task Force (CGNL) is a long-standing multiagency major crimes task force composed of over 40 investigators and analysts from multiple federal, state, and local agencies. The CGNL Task Force works to identify and target for prosecution local, national, and Transnational Criminal Organizations engaged in organized criminal activity within the City of Cleveland, the Northern District of Ohio, the United States, and throughout the Western Hemisphere

The operation was supported in Ohio by the FBI, the United States Attorney’s Office, the United States Border Patrol, the Cleveland Division of Police, Moreland Hills Police Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, Bedford Police Department, Internal Revenue Service, Parma Police Department, Solon Police Department, Ohio Adult Parole (ODRC), Independence Police Department, Ottawa County Drug Task Force, Shaker Heights Police Department, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Brooklyn Police Department, North Royalton Police Department, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Police Department, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Painesville Police Department, Cuyahoga County Prosecutors Office, Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center, The Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and Ohio HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas).

Outside of Ohio, the operation was spearheaded by Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office SAINT/CVC HIDTA, Sacramento FBI Safe Streets Task Force, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force- Sacramento Strikeforce, Sacramento Police Department, Sacramento ATF, New York DEA, Rialto Police Department Narcotics Unit, Orange County Regional Narcotics Suppression Program, and Saint Louis, Missouri DEA.