Mexican National Sentenced to More Than 15 Years in Prison for Role in Drug Trafficking Organization that Manufactured and Attempted to Distribute 63 Kilos of Meth in Northern Ohio

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler announced that Aquileo Perez-Pineda, 52, a Mexican national previously residing in Georgia, was sentenced on Friday, April 29, 2022, by U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi to 188 months or more than 15 years in prison after Perez-Pineda pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to manufacture, possess and distribute large quantities of methamphetamine in Northern Ohio.

According to court documents, from January 2018 through March 2018,  Perez-Pineda was part of a drug trafficking organization that conspired to manufacture, possess and distribute approximately 63 kilograms – more than 138 pounds – of methamphetamine in the Northern District of Ohio.

During this time, law enforcement officials had begun an investigation into a drug trafficking organization that established a system to transport liquid methamphetamine from Mexico to the Northern District of Ohio to be manufactured and cooked into crystal methamphetamine and  distributed, with the cash proceeds to be sent back to Mexico.  Court documents show that co-conspirators hid the liquid methamphetamine in the gas tanks of tractor-trailers.  

According to court records, Perez-Pineda, a trusted methamphetamine cook for the Mexican traffickers, came to Ohio from Georgia to coordinate the manufacturing of crystal methamphetamine, converting the liquid methamphetamine to crystal methamphetamine.   The manufacturing took place at warehouses in Aurora and Hudson, Ohio, where he was assisted by Hector Manuel Ramos-Nevarez and Gilbert Treviso-Garcia, two other Mexican nationals who had previously come to Ohio.

In the early morning hours of March 24, 2018, law enforcement officials with the DEA executed a search warrant at the warehouse in Hudson as part of their investigation into the drug trafficking organization, seizing a large quantity of crystal methamphetamine. 

Immediately after the search, the co-conspirators, unaware that law enforcement had taken the drugs, came to suspect Shauheen Sohrabi of stealing the drugs. 

Co-conspirators Deon Johnson and Tyrone Rogers discussed with suppliers in Mexico what to do about the theft, including possible retribution on Sohrabi.  Johnson had coordinated the connection between suppliers in Mexico and co-conspirators in Northeast Ohio, all while serving a sentence for a prior crime in state prison.

After the Mexican suppliers told Johnson that they could be killed in Mexico for losing such a large quantity of drugs, Johnson told Rogers, “The call is made; he’s through,” referring to Sohrabi.  Rogers then told another individual, “it’s over for” Sohrabi, explaining that “they already put the green light on him, it’s a wrap.  I can’t save him now.” 

Investigators then intervened, arresting members of the drug trafficking organization who were searching for Sohrabi.  Authorities then searched the Hudson warehouse, where they seized additional methamphetamine in its liquid form.

During the two searches, officials seized approximately 63 kilograms of methamphetamine. 

At the time investigators intervened in March 2018, Perez-Pineda had not been identified and had left the area.  However, less than two months later, according to public reports, Perez-Pineda was arrested in the middle of another large-scale methamphetamine-manufacturing process in Harnett County, North Carolina.  In that incident, Harnett County investigators seized 120 gallons of liquid methamphetamine, or more than 450 kilograms, reported to have a street value of approximately $90 million. 

Perez-Pineda is also serving a separate 70-month sentence as a result of that incident. Perez-Pineda’s 188-month sentence has been ordered to run consecutive to that sentence.

Additionally charged in this matter as co-conspirators are Johnson, Rogers, Sohrabi, Ramos-Nevarez, Treviso-Garcia, Michelle Dailey, and Joseph Terlizzi, who have all pled guilty and been sentenced for their roles in the drug trafficking organization.  Johnson was sentenced to 170 months in prison in March of this year.

Mexico-based supplier Jesus Cota-Medina has also been charged, and his matter remains pending.  Cota-Medina is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was investigated by the DEA.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elliot D. Morrison and Kevin P. Pierce.