Detroit — Federal prosecutors charged a strip club cage fighter and her girlfriend Tuesday with hauling drugs during a widespread conspiracy involving an elderly drug mule and former member of the infamous gang Young Boys Inc.
The complaint against fighter Cielo Steward, 30, and Morgann Shearron, 26, both of Arizona, adds to a unique cast prosecutors say helped former Young Boys Inc. member Darryl Terrell and son Jerome Terrell build a cocaine empire in Metro Detroit.
The complaint also helps trace the roots of a sprawling drug investigation that dismantled a drug pipeline between Arizona and Detroit. The Detroit News profiled the drug ring last month.
“This continues to be an ongoing investigation and at this point we’re not going to comment further,” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Rich Isaacson said Wednesday.
The investigation dates to Sept. 23, 2016, after federal agents learned of a drug ring headed by the Terrells and involving drug courier Cheryl Cheatham, according to court records. That’s when U.S. Executive Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen authorized a warrant so drug agents could collect GPS data for Cheatham’s phone.
On Oct. 14, agents learned Cheatham’s phone was at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Investigators watched the 63-year-old grandmother grab two large suitcases at the Delta baggage claim area and followed her to a Southfield hotel.
She didn’t stay long.
Cheatham soon headed to the parking lot, and loaded the suitcases into a hotel shuttle. Meanwhile, agents spotted Jerome Terrell’s truck in the hotel parking lot, according to federal court records.
Cheatham left in the hotel shuttle, followed by Terrell, 27, of West Bloomfield Township, the DEA alleged.
Investigators stopped the shuttle near Southfield Road and Fenkell Avenue in Detroit, searched the luggage, found two bundles containing a total of 17 kilograms of cocaine worth $595,000 and arrested Cheatham.
Seven months later, prosecutors arrested and charged Jerome Terrell and his 60-year-old father, who also lives in West Bloomfield. The narcotics ring laundered drug profits through Darryl Terrell’s soul food restaurant, Café Sonshine, near the New Center area, prosecutors said.
The investigation has continued while the Terrells await trial Nov. 7 in federal court.
Flight and bank records show Cheatham was not the only drug courier employed by the Terrells, prosecutors allege.
The records identified Steward and Shearron as couriers for the drug ring, DEA Special Agent Chad Hermans wrote in the complaint.
They were arrested Jan. 23, 2016, at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport while trying to fly to Detroit.
Shearron checked a bag that was searched by investigators who found 11 kilograms of cocaine, the agent wrote.
The kilos were individually wrapped in towels, the same method used to bundle cocaine seized during Cheatham’s arrest.
After finding the drugs, investigators searched Steward’s luggage.
They found nine kilograms of cocaine and one kilogram of heroin, the agent wrote.
Steward told investigators she was a cage fighter at Phoenix-area strip clubs and was flying to Detroit to find clubs where she could fight. Steward said she did not pack her luggage but thought something illegal was in the bags.
Shearron denied packing her own suitcase and said she was taking the luggage to Detroit “at the request of a friend,” the agent wrote.
Investigators checked Shearron’s phone and realized she had recently had a phone call with Jerome Terrell’s phone, the agent wrote.
Investigators also learned that Shearron had previously purchased plane tickets for Cheatham, the drug ring’s other courier.
The complaint against Steward and Shearron was filed two months after Cheatham struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
Cheatham was caught with so much cocaine, she faces at least a decade behind bars when sentenced in November.
A member of the notorious gang Young Boys Inc. has returned to drug dealing, reaping millions of dollars and building a cocaine empire intertwined with his family tree, a 63-year-old drug mule and a soul food restaurant, according to court records.