Branea Bryant, a 30-year-old woman from Cleveland, Ohio, has been sentenced to over 24 years in prison for her involvement in a fentanyl trafficking conspiracy and money laundering scheme. The sentencing was handed down by U.S. District Judge John R. Adams, following Bryant’s conviction on charges of Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute 400 Grams or More of Fentanyl, Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, and Money Laundering. This case is part of a larger effort by the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) to dismantle high-level drug traffickers and criminal organizations. The investigation, led by the FBI and IRS, uncovered multiple houses linked to the drug organization, as well as a significant amount of fentanyl, firearms, money, and luxury vehicles. Bryant’s company, ADF3 Investments, was found to have purchased high-end vehicles that were used in the drug trade. A total of 24 defendants were indicted in connection with this case, all of whom have been convicted.
Sentence and Convictions
Length of sentence
Branea Bryant, a 30-year-old woman from Cleveland, Ohio, has been sentenced to 290 months in prison by U.S. District Judge John R. Adams. The lengthy sentence reflects the severity of her crimes and serves as a deterrent for others involved in similar illegal activities.
U.S. District Judge John R. Adams presided over the sentencing of Branea Bryant. His decision to impose a substantial prison term demonstrates the seriousness of the offenses committed and sends a clear message that drug trafficking and money laundering will not be tolerated.
Branea Bryant was convicted of multiple charges, including one count of Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute 400 Grams or More of Fentanyl, one count of Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, and three counts of Money Laundering. These convictions highlight her involvement in a dangerous fentanyl trafficking conspiracy and her attempts to conceal and legitimize the proceeds of her illegal activities.
Background of the Conspiracy
The case against Branea Bryant and her co-conspirators was the result of a long-term, multi-agency investigation. Law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, dedicated significant time and resources to gather evidence and build a strong case against the defendants involved in the fentanyl trafficking conspiracy.
Based on the FBI’s investigation, it was determined that members of the conspiracy were actively selling fentanyl to customers at various locations in Cleveland. The findings uncovered the extensive reach and operations of the drug organization, which posed a significant threat to public safety.
Locations of drug sales
The fentanyl sales conducted by the conspiracy were not limited to a single location. The FBI’s investigation revealed that drug transactions were taking place at multiple sites throughout Cleveland. This widespread distribution network allowed the defendants to reach a large number of customers and profit from their illicit activities.
Search Warrants and Seizures
Date of search warrants
On August 31, 2021, law enforcement agencies executed search warrants at seven houses connected to the drug organization. This coordinated operation aimed to gather evidence and disrupt the activities of the fentanyl trafficking conspiracy.
The search warrants were executed at properties linked to the drug organization involved in the conspiracy. These houses served as operational bases for the illegal activities, providing storage, packaging, and distribution of the fentanyl. By targeting these locations, law enforcement agencies were able to dismantle key components of the criminal enterprise.
During the execution of the search warrants, law enforcement seized substantial evidence, including over a kilogram of fentanyl, numerous firearms, ammunition, high-speed money counters, drug presses, a vacuum-sealer used to package drugs and money, over $68,000 in cash, jewelry, and multiple high-end vehicles, such as two Range Rovers and a Jaguar F-Type. These seized items provide further proof of the defendants’ involvement in drug trafficking and money laundering activities.
Money Laundering Investigation
Involvement of IRS
The investigation into money laundering activities was carried out in collaboration with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS played a crucial role in uncovering the financial transactions and assets connected to Branea Bryant’s illegal activities, ultimately contributing to her conviction.
Branea Bryant’s company, ADF3 Investments, was implicated in the money laundering scheme. Through this entity, she laundered the proceeds from the fentanyl sales and attempted to disguise the illicit funds as legitimate business assets.
Bank accounts and purchases
The IRS investigation revealed that ADF3 Investments maintained bank accounts that were primarily funded through cash deposits. These accounts were then used to make substantial purchases at high-end designer stores like Gucci and Prada. The evidence presented at trial, including records of Branea Bryant’s debit card transactions, highlighted the connection between the money laundering operation and her personal spending.
Indictment and Convictions
Number of defendants
A total of 24 defendants, including Branea Bryant, were indicted in connection with the fentanyl trafficking conspiracy and money laundering operation. This extensive indictment reflected the scope and complexity of the criminal enterprise and aimed to hold all individuals accountable for their actions.
The investigation and subsequent indictment were the result of a coordinated effort by the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The collaboration between various law enforcement agencies demonstrated the commitment to combatting organized crime and dismantling drug trafficking networks.
Conviction of all defendants
All 24 defendants, including Branea Bryant, were convicted of the charges brought against them. The successful prosecution of each defendant further confirmed the strength of the case and the evidence presented in court.
Investigating and Assisting Agencies
The primary agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution of the fentanyl trafficking conspiracy and money laundering operation were the FBI’s Cartel, Gang, Narcotics, and Laundering Task Force (CGNL) and IRS Criminal Investigation. Their expertise and resources were critical in uncovering the criminal activities and bringing the defendants to justice.
Additional law enforcement agencies
In addition to the primary agencies, several other law enforcement agencies provided crucial support and assistance in the investigation and prosecution of the case. These agencies included the Cleveland Division of Police, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio Investigative Unit, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Cleveland Heights Police Department, the Southeast Area Law Enforcement Task Force (SEALE), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory.
Forensic science involvement
The Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory played a vital role in analyzing and processing the evidence collected during the investigation. Their expertise in forensic science ensured that the evidence presented in court was reliable and admissible, strengthening the overall case against the defendants.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys involved
The prosecution team responsible for presenting the case against the defendants included Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Lewis, Joseph Dangelo, and James Morford. Their expertise and dedication to seeking justice were instrumental in securing the convictions of all 24 defendants.
Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF)
Overview of OCDETF
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) is a program led by the Department of Justice. It focuses on identifying, disrupting, and dismantling high-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations. The OCDETF program utilizes a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach to combatting organized crime and protecting the United States from the threats posed by criminal networks.
Purpose of the investigation
The investigation into the fentanyl trafficking conspiracy and money laundering operation was conducted as part of the OCDETF program. The primary goal of this investigation was to dismantle the criminal organization involved in the distribution of fentanyl and the laundering of illicit funds. Through the coordinated efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies, the investigation successfully achieved its objectives and brought all defendants to justice.
For further information or inquiries regarding this case, please contact Thomas P. Weldon.
You can reach Thomas P. Weldon at 216-622-3651.
This article was last updated on August 25, 2023.