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Indictment: Drug smugglers used U.S. Postal Service to ship drugs to Northeast Ohio from Puerto Rico

Posted at 12:27 PM, Dec 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-07 17:26:28-05

Authorities have announced federal charges against 26 people after multiple nighttime raids were conducted across Northeast Ohio in an effort to bust two large-scale drug smuggling operations.

According to U.S. Attorney's Office, 15 people are accused of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and other drugs.

The following people were charged:

Irwin Jose Vargas, 42, of Euclid
Keyra Linnete Martinez, 42, of Euclid
Irwing Vargas Rosario, 24, of Cleveland
Isidoro M. Gonzalez, 41, of Cleveland
Alcides Garcia, 46, of Ponce, Puerto Rico
Austin Natale, 27, of Cleveland
Kayle Mae Jonela, 22, of Brook Park
Rosemary Howell, 55, of Cleveland
Dennis Mansfield, 58, of Cleveland
William Rodriguez, 41, of Cleveland
Jeffrey Mack, 44, of Cleveland
Victor Felix, 39, of Cleveland
Nelson Benitez Jr., 34, of Cleveland
Thomas Lopez, 39, of Cleveland
Edgar Arroyo, 37, of Cleveland

Vargas, Martinez and Gonzales had the drugs shipped into the United States from Puerto Rico through the mail, authorities said.

Vargas and Martinez also utilized the U.S. Postal Service to have drugs shipped from China to Puerto Rico. After the drugs were brought to Northeast Ohio they were redistributed and sold to other traffickers across the area.  

The alleged drug traffickers used multiple locations to store and distribute the drugs. Police conducted raids at an auto security and sound business on Bridge Avenue in Cleveland belonging to Vargas as well as his apartment on Day Drive in Parma.  Police raided other locations, including Martinez's home on Hemlock Drive in Euclid, a car dealership on Ridge Road belonging to Gonzales and his home on Wichita Avenue in Cleveland.

Another 12 people in a 26-count indictment are charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, N-Ethyl Pentalone or 'molly' and marijuana in Northeast Ohio.

The following people were charged:

Emad Silmi, 43, of North Olmsted
Christopher Young, 46, of Westlake
Herbert Shaw, 44, of Cleveland
Samer Abu-Kwaik, 46, of Cleveland
Nelson Benitez Jr., 34, of Cleveland
Jonathan Smith, 34, of Lathrup Village, Michigan
John D. Ciarlillo, 42, of Medina
Anthony Quinn Greenlee, 26, of Huron
Santana Jones, 22, of Cleveland
Gregory Lowery, 32, of Painesville
Mogahed Mustafa, 30, of North Olmsted
Erkan Nevzadi, 29, of Cleveland

Benitez was charged in both indictments.

Investigators said Silmi obtained large amounts of cocaine from Abu-Kwaik and sold the drug to other traffickers store, Global Auto Body and Collision, on West 130th Street in Cleveland.  Authorities allege Silmi received large amounts of molly from Greenlee, who purchased it from suppliers in China. Silmi sold the molly to other dealers out of his auto body shop, authorities said.

Silmi is also accused of money laundering in an attempt to hide his drug profits, officials said.

Another business, U.S. Motor Sales on Brookpark Road in Parma, owned by Greenlee, was also raided by police. Greenlee is accused of using the business and his Meadow Lane apartment to store and distribute the drugs.

Authorities said Greenlee and Nevzadi are facing charges for using guns to protect their drug trafficking activities.

Two of the individuals named in the indictments have not been taken into custody. Police are still searching for Felix and Rodriguez.  Anyone with information regarding their whereabouts is asked to contact their local police department.

The investigations were conducted by the FBI, U.S. Postal Service, Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office, Cleveland police, IRS, and the Northern Ohio Law Enforcement Task Force and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.