A federal grand jury sitting in Cleveland returned a one-count indictment on March 11 charging Benjamin Ortiz Ledezma, 38, of Tucson, Arizona, with possession with the intent to distribute approximately 20 kilograms of cocaine.
According to court documents, on February 21, 2021, a trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol pulled over a vehicle on Interstate 76 in Milton Township, Mahoning County, Ohio, and identified the driver as the defendant. The defendant was unable to produce a driver’s license when asked by the officer. The trooper then requested backup, and a trained canine unit arrived and indicated an odor of narcotics emitting from the rear of the vehicle.
Troopers searched the vehicle and found two brick-shaped objects of suspected cocaine concealed in the rear cargo area. An additional 16 brick-shaped objects of suspected cocaine were found concealed within a spare tire.
In total, officers seized 18 bricks of suspected cocaine weighing approximately 20 gross kilograms.
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.
The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Yasmine Makridis.