Federal law enforcement officials announced the arrest of three men charged in a 30-count indictment for their roles in a drug trafficking conspiracy that is alleged to have brought over 500 kilograms, or approximately 1,100 pounds, of cocaine from Mexico to be redistributed in the Cleveland area, according to a press release by the Northern District of Ohio U.S. Attorney’s Office.
People charged in the indictment are Christopher Ficklin, 49, of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and Robert Atkinson, 41, of Cleveland, Ohio. Additionally charged in the indictment as part of the drug trafficking organization is David Gomez-Orrantia, 41, of Mexico, according to the press release. Gomez-Orrantia was arrested on March 11. Other members of the organization remain at large.
Each member of the drug trafficking organization is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Members of the drug trafficking organization are also charged with various additional counts of interstate travel in aid of racketeering, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, distribution of cocaine, international money laundering and use of a communications facility to facilitate a felony drug offense, according to the press release. Defendant Ficklin is also charged as a felon in possession of a firearm.
According to the indictment cited by the press release, around June of 2020, Gomez-Orrantia and others shipped kilogram quantities of cocaine from Mexico to a warehouse controlled by defendant Ficklin on Carnegie Avenue in the city of Cleveland. The indictment states that Ficklin then redistributed the drugs to Atkinson and others to be further redistributed throughout the area. In total, it is alleged that the drug trafficking organization shipped over 1,100 pounds of cocaine from Mexico to be distributed in the Cleveland area and sent approximately $13 million in drug trafficking proceeds back to Mexico.
“Drug trafficking organizations target communities like Cleveland because they mistakenly assume nobody is paying attention,” Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler said in a statement. “To those drug traffickers, both foreign and domestic, who think that our communities and neighborhoods here in Northern Ohio are open for your businesses – know that we are watching, we are paying attention, we will act and we will not stand for it.”
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Photo by DEA Detroit office.