5 CLE mail carriers indicted in weed scheme

Posted at 9:12 PM, May 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-03 07:53:47-04

Five United States Postal carriers out of Shaker Heights are facing a long list of charges after federal authorities said they were involved in a scheme to intercept packages of pot. 

The five were charged with conspiring to distribute marijuana after helping to arrange shipments of the drug through U.S. mail that were later given to another drug dealer, according to Carole S. Rendon, Acting U.S. States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio

Aaron L. Kelly, 28, Dartagnan B. Mitchell, 28, Tamika S. Embry, 32, Devon Blake, 25 and Rashon Blake, 25, all of Cleveland, were charged in the 11-count indictment. 

Kelly and Embry were arrested Tuesday, according to Scott Balfour, who is the spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General. All five have been working out of the Shaker Heights Post Office on Warrensville Heights Rd.

Balfour said Mitchell resigned in March 2016. The other four are suspended without pay pending the outcome of the Postal Service's administrative review process.

Here's how authorities said it worked: the carriers told Kevin Collins, a convicted drug dealer, of their work schedules and addresses on their routes. Collins then arranged for packages of marijuana to be shipped to addresses on the routes and sent them when he knew the defendants were scheduled to be working, according to the indictment.

Blake, Blake, Embry, Kelly and Mitchell took the marijuana-containing packages and, instead of delivering them to the listed addresses, gave the packages directly to Collins. Sometimes, they improperly scanned or did not scan the packages in an effort to disguise their delivery status, the indictment stated.

In return, Collins paid cash to the defendants, according to the indictment. 

"These are folks who had jobs, decent jobs as mail carriers, and they threw it all away for $200, $300, $400 of cash," said Michael Tobin with the U.S. Attorney's Office. If convicted, Tobin said the maximum jail time could be up to 15 years.

Collins pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and using firearm during drug trafficking crime. His sentencing has yet to be scheduled.

“These mail carriers used their positions not to serve the public, but to be spokes in a drug-trafficking organization,” Rendon said. “They violated the trust of the public and their employer, and now must answer to criminal charges.”

U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General Special Agent in Charge of the Eastern Area Field Office Monica S. Weyler, said, “The vast majority of the nation’s 400,000 postal employees are honest, hard-working individuals. It is troubling when a few of those employees choose to violate the trust given to them to use their positions for personal gain. These investigations show that USPS OIG special agents and postal inspectors will work diligently to find those few employees who choose to deliver drugs instead of the mail, and will seek their criminal prosecution and removal from the Postal Service. The employees named in these charges threw away their federal career for a few hundred dollars. Other employees who are engaging in this conduct should ask themselves, is it worth it? To report postal employee misconduct or criminal activity, contact special agents at 888-USPS-OIG or”