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3 indicted for illegal dirt bike riding in Cleveland

The trio were arrested last month as part of 'Operation Wheels Down' as local and state agencies seek to stop off-road vehicles from illegally operating in the city.
Credit: Waterbury Police Department
ATV taken into possession by Waterbury police for illegal use in the city.

CLEVELAND — Last month, the Cleveland Division of Police, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office and the Ohio State Highway Patrol launched "Operation Wheels Down." The initiative seeks to curb the number of illegal off-road vehicles on city streets.

On Tuesday, three people were indicted after being arrested in the initial days of that operation. 

A Cuyahoga County grand jury returned an indictment charging Jonathan Rivera-Ortiz, 28, Christine Vazquez, 28, and Luis Ortiz, 29, for illegally riding dirt bikes in Cleveland.

According to a release from Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley, Rivera-Ortiz orchestrated a "large-scale" illegal dirt bike ride in Cleveland last month. He utilized social media to advertise the ride to multiple cities, calling for for dirt bike / ATV riders to take over Cleveland and make it a “wheelie show.” 

On May 21, Rivera-Ortiz and his passenger, Christine Vazquez, were recklessly operating a dirt bike in Cleveland. Officers from the Cleveland Division of Police attempted to pull over Rivera-Ortiz near West 58th Street and Detroit Avenue in Cleveland. He continued to flee, reaching speeds over 80 mph. The pursuit finally ended near West 130th Street and Lorain Avenue as the two were arrested at the scene. 

One day later, officials say Luis Ortiz was recklessly operating a dirt bike near West 53rd Street and Lorain Avenue in Cleveland. Cleveland police officers attempted to pull over Ortiz, who almost hit police vehicles and made an illegal U-turn. Ortiz fell off his dirt bike and was arrested.

“These charges send a stern message that it is no longer business as usual for illegal dirt bike riders in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County,” said Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley. “We commend the Cleveland Police Department, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s collaborative effort to apprehend these individuals and help make our streets a safer place.”

Jonathan Rivera-Ortiz and Christine Vazquez were indicted on the following charges:

  • One count of Failure to Comply
  • One count of Aggravated Riot
  • One count of Inducing Panic

Luis Ortiz was indicted for:

  • One count of Failure to Comply
  • One count of Aggravated Riot
  • One count of Inducing Panic 

Last month, Cleveland City Council introduced and immediately passed legislation that will increase fines for those riding off-road vehicles in the city of Cleveland, including dirt bikes and ATVs. The fines have been increased from $50 for first offenders and $100 for repeat offenders, to $500 for first offenses and $1,000 for repeated violations. 

The new legislation also broadens the rules against operating a vehicle to make “unreasonable noise”, or to “disturb the peace”, or be “detrimental to the life or health of any individual.”

Council also targeted "trick riding" in its legislation. Vehicles will be prohibited from "blocking or impeding an entire intersection for the purpose of…trick riding” as well as “trick or stunt riding or driving of any vehicle upon any part of a sidewalk, street, or other public property of the City.”

Also outlawed by the new legislation by Cleveland City Council will be cars taking over streets doing “donuts” and burning rubber.

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