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Rapper arrested; guns, drugs, cash seized

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A 36-year-old man linked to a downtown shooting that critically injured a man is now the subject of a major federal investigation into money laundering and drug trafficking, according to court documents. 

Johnell Cleveland is charged in Multnomah County with one count each of attempted murder, second-degree assault, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He is also charged with two counts of unlawful use of a weapon. 

The charges stem from the December 23, 2017 shooting that happened along Southwest 3rd Avenue.

The victim from the shooting drove himself from the scene to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. 

The shooting was captured on video, according to court documents.

During the investigation, police learned Cleveland was associated with a white Mercedes Benz. Video from the shooting shows the gunshot victim falling to the ground immediately after shots were fired from the white Mercedes Benz, according to court documents. Additional gunshots were fired towards the Mercedes Benz. 

Police eventually located the Mercedes in Happy Valley at a residence connected to Cleveland, according to court documents. Police later determined the Mercedes belonged to Cleveland. The vehicle also had bullet holes in it. 

On March 7, federal investigators searched Cleveland’s Happy Valley residence, a storage unit in Clackamas County and an apartment in Vancouver that Cleveland was using as a “stash house,” according to court documents. 

During the search of the Happy Valley residence, police found more than $27,000 in cash, seven firearms, a ballistic vest and more than 300 pills believed to be oxycodone, according to court documents. 

In the storage unit, investigators recovered more than $125,000 in cash. 

Nearly 700 suspected oxycodone pills were found at the apartment complex in Vancouver, according to court documents. Two additional firearms were found. More than 300 pills were found in a BMW at the residence. 

On March 8, investigators executed a search warrant on a safe deposit box that was held in the name of Cleveland and recovered $28,000 in cash. 

In all, during the investigation, records show that investigators have seized more than $180,000 in cash from Cleveland and jewelry with a retail value estimated to be in excess of $100,000. 

Special agents with the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation learned that Cleveland operates “Cash or Collateral Entertainment, LLC,” an entertainment business. Cleveland promoted his music rap videos on YouTube and other media outlets. 

IRS CI agents “have been unable to identify any source of legitimate income derived from music videos or CDs/downloadable music such as checks from a media company, record sales or royalty payments,” according to court documents. 

The majority of the expenses associated with “Cash or Collateral” are for rental cars, hotel reservations and plane tickets, which investigators detailed in court documents as being connected to narcotics trafficking. 

Investigators believe that a U.S. Bank account in the name of “Cash or Collateral Entertainment” was being used to conceal and hide Cleveland’s drug proceeds “as well as promote Cleveland’s ongoing drug trafficking activities by purchasing airline tickets, rental cars and hotels.”

According to a federal affidavit recently unsealed in U.S. District Court, the IRS CI special agent on the case revealed that Cleveland operates “The Dirty TaeToe” food cart in North Portland. The food cart “is a legitimate business that operates off and on throughout the year consistent with a food cart business.”

However, investigators “have identified several large cash deposits in round, whole dollar amounts that were made into the food cart’s bank account that “are inconsistent with food cart sales.” 

Investigators believe the food cart was being used to launder money and to conceal the true source of the funds.

During the investigation, law enforcement learned that Cleveland uses the aliases of “MP,” “Mak Papi,” “MB,” and “Mark Billion.” 

On Dec. 24, 2017, a day after the shooting in downtown Portland, an inmate at the Oregon State Penitentiary made a phone call to a 503 phone number. During that phone call, investigators believe the inmate was having a coded conversation about the shooting and potentially implicated Cleveland as being the shooter, according to court documents. 

Cleveland remains in custody at the Multnomah County Inverness Jail. He is due back in Multnomah County Circuit Court on April 27. 

There is no evidence to show that Cleveland has yet been charged in federal court. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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