Chicago man pleads guilty in Huntington for role in drug conspiracy

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Chicago man pleaded guilty  for his role in a drug trafficking conspiracy, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Richard Fleming entered his guilty plea to aiding and abetting the attempted distribution of 100 kilograms or more of marijuana.

 

Fleming admitted that he traveled to Putnam County on March 12, 2010, to pick up approximately $600,000 of drug proceeds from a March 5, 2010, shipment of over 300 kilograms of marijuana on behalf of a drug trafficking organization operating out of Arizona and Mexico. Unbeknownst to Fleming and the drug trafficking organization, law enforcement intercepted the marijuana before it could be delivered. When Fleming arrived in Putnam County to pick up the cash, he actually met with an undercover officer who provided him with a duffel bag he represented contained approximately $600,000 in drug proceeds. Fleming then left the area and began travelling back to his destination to provide the money to other members of the drug trafficking organization. A traffic stop was conducted on Fleming’s vehicle in Kentucky and the duffel bag was recovered.

 

Fleming was originally charged in July 2010 and released on bond. On September 7, 2011, he failed to appear for his trial and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. Fleming remained a fugitive until he was arrested in Mexico in August 2017. He admitted during his plea hearing that he fled the United States to avoid prosecution in this case.

 

Fleming faces at least five and up to 40 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on February 12, 2018.

 

A total of 15 other individuals were successfully prosecuted as a result of this investigation. Additionally, law enforcement seized over a million dollars in drug proceeds and an airplane belonging to this drug trafficking organization.

 

This prosecution was made possible through the cooperative efforts of several investigating agencies, including the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team, the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Department in Ohio, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department in Ohio, the United States Marshals Service, the Kentucky State Police, the Indiana State Police, the Huntington Police Department, and the Policia Federal Ministerial of Mexico. Additionally, several Drug Enforcement Administration agents investigated this case, including agents from Charleston, Columbus, Phoenix, Tucson, Chicago, Denver, and Hermosillo, Mexico.

 

Assistant United States Attorney Monica D. Coleman is in charge of the prosecution. United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers presided over today’s plea hearing.

 

This case was prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of illegal drugs. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of illegal drugs in communities across the Southern District. 

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