Illegal Alien Allegedly Ran Drug Trafficking Operation from Ohio Prison

(Ohio AG's Office)

An illegal alien, who had previously been deported from the United States, is accused of running a Mexico-to-Ohio drug trafficking operation from his prison cell in Youngstown, Ohio.

Jose Lozano-Leon, a 41-year-old illegal alien from Mexico, was named in a 17-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, Ohio as the ringleader of a drug trafficking operation where he allegedly used a cellphone — smuggled into the prison by his associates — to oversee large-scale fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine trafficking into the country.

According to federal prosecutors, Lozano-Leon was first deported from the U.S. in 2017 after illegally entering the country through the southern border. Sometime after his deportation, Lozano-Leon re-entered the U.S. as an illegal alien and was indicted on federal reentry charges in October 2018.

After pleading guilty to illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, Lozano-Leon was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and was incarcerated at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown.

Around November 2018, Lozano-Leon’s associates smuggled a cellphone into the Ohio prison for the illegal alien so he could operate the massive drug trafficking pipeline of fentanyl from Mexico to Cleveland.

Lozano-Leon, along with nine other Ohio residents, many of which are from Mexico, managed the Lozano drug trafficking organization which prosecutors said specialized in importing pills filled with deadly fentanyl to the U.S.

Lozano-Leon’s associates named in the federal indictment include:

  • 31-year-old Mario Hernandez-Leon of Mexico
  • 27-year-old Clemente Gutierrez-Meraz of Mexico
  • 45-year-old Lorne Franklin of Ohio
  • 49-year-old Leevern Coleman of Ohio
  • 36-year-old Belen Orozco-Sigala of Ohio
  • 28-year-old Najee Amir Evans of Ohio
  • 47-year-old Troy Pinnock of Ohio
  • 60-year-old Damon Bybee of Ohio
  • 38-year-old Montez Vanburen of Ohio

Hernandez-Leon, prosecutors allege, traveled back and forth from Tijuana, Mexico to San Diego, California to arrange for drugs to be trafficked into Northeast Ohio — which also included heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana. Hernandez-Leon allegedly would deliver drug payments to suppliers in Mexico.

Likewise, Gutierrez-Meran, prosecutors detailed, mostly operated from Mexico and would arrange for drugs to be trafficked into the U.S. under the direction of Lozano-Leon. Meanwhile, after the drugs would reach Cleveland, Franklin would sell the drugs and deliver cash payments to associates in Arizona, California, and Mexico, according to prosecutors.

As part of the operation, prosecutors said Lozano-Leon said he recruited a Mexican national at one point who had entered the U.S. to drive their trafficked drugs from San Diego to Cleveland.

“[Lozano-Leon] has come to this country illegally and allegedly made his living selling the same kinds of drugs that are killing our friends and neighbors,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said in a statement. “He is an importer of pain and will be prosecuted accordingly.”

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder. 


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