Police Make Mass Arrests In Cleveland-to-Chicago Drug Ring

By McCarton Ackerman 06/30/14

The feds continued their crackdown on heroin in the Windy City.

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Nearly 30 people were arrested last week for their role in an elaborate Chicago-to-Cleveland drug ring which bought substances from the Windy City and sold them in the Rock and Roll Capital of the World.

Twenty-eight members of the 31-person drug ring were arrested, including the Chicago-based drug kingpin Gardner Witt, 43. Witt is a ranking member of a national gang based in Chicago, the Black Disciples, while other Cleveland-based members who were arrested had involvement in local gangs including the Hough Heights Boys and Hough Harlem Boys. FBI agents are still looking for Reuben Bell, 27, LaToya Johnson, 30, and James McClain, 32.

Between June 2010 and May 2014, undercover agents made 37 heroin buys from the ring in Cleveland suburbs, totaling 284 grams and a value of $26,340.  The drug deals were arranged from Cuyahoga County Jail and then sold to customers out of an auto body shop.

The drug ring raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars selling heroin, using the money to buy and rehab a Cleveland apartment which was then sold at a $200,000 profit. Prosecutors also claim that to avoid raising suspicion, they literally buried half of the money in the ground.

"You can't minimize this case," said FBI Special Agent In Charge Steven Anthony. "The streets are safer with these guys off the streets."

A more extensive investigation involving wiring informants began in April 2013 and was formally approved by a judge last October. After investigators finished raiding homes and vehicles belonging to members of the ring, they seized $750,000, six guns, and several luxury cars purchased with drug money.

One member of the drug ring from Cleveland, 29-year-old Harry Hubbard, was convicted with several others in 2005 of killing a man by dousing him with gasoline and lighting him on fire.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.