Federal law enforcement officials announced today that eight individuals were charged for their roles in a drug trafficking conspiracy that distributed at least 10 kilograms of cocaine and other drugs in the Lorain, Elyria and Cleveland areas. The charges were unsealed in two separate indictments. Seven defendants have been arrested and one, Mohammad HAMID, remains a fugitive.
“The cooperation between local and federal law enforcement has once again proven effective,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan. “Anyone alleged to be selling cocaine, heroin or any other illegal narcotics in Cleveland, Elyria or Lorain should expect a strong law enforcement response.”
“Yesterday’s enforcement operation was the culmination of an investigation that targeted narcotics-related crimes and drug trafficking in Lorain county,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin. “The arrests of these individuals puts drug dealers on notice that we will use whatever resources necessary to remove them, and the poisons they peddle, from our communities.”
The first indictment charges Fernando TALAVERA, age 42, of Parma Heights, and Harlan PAGE, age 29, of Westlake, with conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine. In addition, defendant TALAVERA is charged as a felon in possession of a firearm.
The second indictment charges Prince BROWN, age 35, currently incarcerated; Robert STARR, age 27, of Lorain; Mohammad HAMID, age 33, of Avon Lake; Amos JACKSON, age 37, of Elyria; Darian LOPEZ, age 27, of Lorain and Devon GRANTHAM, age 26, of Elyria with conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute controlled substances and use of a communication facility in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. In addition, Defendant STARR is charged with two counts of distribution of cocaine and defendant BROWN is charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin and as a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
According to the charges, from January of 2019 to September of 2020, defendants TALAVERA and PAGE worked together to traffic at least five kilograms of cocaine in the Elyria, Lorain and Cleveland areas. Separately, defendants BROWN and HAMID conspired together to supply at least five kilograms of cocaine and other amounts of heroin to other narcotics traffickers in their network.
As part of the conspiracy and to reduce the risk of being detected by law enforcement, the defendants used cell phones obtained in the names of fictitious individuals and code words when discussing drug trafficking activity.
On the morning of January 28, law enforcement agents with the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force (NOVFTF) assisted the DEA with apprehending the defendants and succeeded in placing seven of the eight in federal custody.
These arrests and indictments are related to an earlier investigation into drug trafficking in the Lorain county area. In July of 2020, 10 individuals were arrested in a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, cocaine and oxycodone throughout Elyria.
An indictment 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.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation.
In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum, and in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
This effort was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
The matter was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Agency, Lorain county High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), City of Lorain Police Department and City of Elyria Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Vasile C. Katsaros.