3 Cincinnati men plead guilty for dealing fentanyl

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CINCINNATI – The lead of three defendants charged in a narcotics conspiracy punishable by at least 10 years and up to life in prison pleaded guilty in federal court in Cincinnati today.

Derek (Duke) Ragan, 51, appeared in U.S. District Court today to enter his guilty plea for conspiring to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl.

Co-defendants Anthony (Pea Head) Sanderson, 65, and Lawrence (LB) Bell, 68, have also pleaded guilty in this case.

The three were charged in 2019 after an extensive investigation by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force. In 2010, police seized more than $1 million in cash, along with guns and drugs from Ragan’s residence “Duke’s Place.” Ragan forfeited the million dollars in that local case as part of his plea to local gambling charges.

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According to court documents in the current case, the co-conspirators brought fentanyl and other drugs into the Cincinnati area, where they were further processed, cut, combined, packaged and stored prior to distribution. The defendants used “Duke’s Place” on Oliver Street in Cincinnati to distribute the illegal opioids.

As part of his plea, Ragan admitted to eight specific occasions in which he conspired to sell anywhere between 28 and 283 grams of fentanyl. Each transaction involved between $2,800 and $28,000 worth of narcotics.

Ragan, Sanderson and Bell will be sentenced at future court hearings. Congress sets the maximum statutory sentence. Sentencing of the defendant is determined by the Court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

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Vipal J. Patel, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Chris Hoffman, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division; and Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot K. Isaac announced the plea entered into today before Senior U.S. District Court Judge Susan J. Dlott. Assistant United States Attorney Kenneth L. Parker and Criminal Chief Karl P. Kadon are representing the United States in this case.