The Detroit connection for a massive ring shipping millions of dollars of Mexican cocaine to a Green Tree stash house leased by an Atlanta co-conspirator will spend the next decade in federal prison, the mandatory minimum, for his role in flooding the region with narcotics.
Jesus Cuevas, 42, was sentenced Tuesday to 120 months behind bars for supplying coke to accused Pittsburgh ringleader Jamal Stoner and his gang of criminals.
Cuevas, a repeat felon originally from California, used couriers to ship more than 50 kilos of cocaine at a time across the U.S., said Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Jordan, belying his contention that he hasn’t been dealing drugs since his last conviction in 2012.
She said he’d just become smarter at dealing — using others to transport his drugs, placing his assets in multiple states and not using the banking system for his drug money.
Cuevas was among a group of 16 defendants indicted in Pittsburgh in 2021 following a wiretap investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and its partners that revealed drug shipments coming into Pittsburgh from Atlanta and Detroit.
The investigation culminated in search warrants on Dec. 9, 2021, at several properties in both cities. Law officers recovered $2 million from Cuevas’ apartment in Detroit, along with $840,000 worth of jewelry, a gun and marijuana. A search of a storage unit in Atlanta that Cuevas used when he was there turned up another gun.
The DEA said Cuevas used three co-defendants — Paula Crowell, Peter Dawson and Gerard Riley — as couriers to transport drugs and money between Pittsburgh and Detroit. During the course of the investigation, he orchestrated the delivery of at least 10 kilos directly to Stoner and his cronies, prosecutors said.
His lawyer, Michael DeRiso, said Cuevas grew up poor in California with a father who abused him and was later deported to Mexico, leaving his mother to provide for the family alone by cleaning houses. Without a male role model, he gravitated to gangs as a juvenile and went to jail at age 16 before finishing high school in Santa Ana.
Cuevas is the first defendant in the case to be sentenced.
Federal agents said the focal point of the drug ring was Apartment 2002 in the City Vista complex in Green Tree, which was leased by Gordon Johnson, the accused Atlanta supplier for Stoner.
Ring members flew to Atlanta to pick up coke and then brought it to Pittsburgh on Greyhound buses. They chose Greyhound because the security is lax, prosecutors said.
During the investigation, DEA and state agents recovered a total of 31 kilos of coke and $3 million in cash. Wiretaps revealed other transactions involving up to 100 kilos.
The lead defendant in the case is Stoner, 34, of Pittsburgh, a home improvement contractor who went to high school in Atlanta and ran a house-flipping business in Pittsburgh called Beyond Measures Investment Properties.