Dozens Indicted on Charges of Violating Drug and Firearms Laws in Warren, Ohio
APRIL 17 (WARREN, Ohio) - Nineteen separate federal indictments were unsealed today, charging 55 people with various violations of federal narcotics and/or firearms laws in and around Warren, Ohio, law enforcement officials announced.
At the same time, an additional 42 people were charged in state court on similar charges. Overall, 155 firearms were taken off the streets, either by being purchased or seized by law enforcement.
The conduct laid out in the indictments include a conspiracy involving 21 people who are accused of bringing large quantities of heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine from Detroit to Warren, Ohio; another that brought heroin from Columbus to Warren and Dayton; others that sold Oxycodone, hydrocodone, heroin and crack cocaine; and multiple indictments of people accused of illegally possessing and selling firearms.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Corso said: “This investigation exemplifies the success that can be achieved when local, state and federal law enforcement work together. Drug dealers are a violent group, and the nexus between drugs, guns and violence is clear in this case. The removal of the drugs, guns and the people who sell them, from the streets of Warren is a significant victory for law enforcement and will benefit those who live and work in that community.”
“These cases have taken an arsenal off the streets of Warren and cut off several pipelines of heroin, cocaine and other illegal drugs,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “It’s yet another demonstration of what happens when federal and local law enforcement work together for the good of the public.”
“Those arrested today brought more than just drugs and guns into the Youngstown area,” said Attorney General Mike DeWine. “Their operation brought more violent crime into our neighborhoods as well, and we will continue to work with state, local, and federal law enforcement to do everything we can to keep our communities safe.”
In the case of United States v. Valentino Thomas, Sr. et. al., a 99-count indictment was filed charging 21 people with engaging in a conspiracy to distribute heroin, crack cocaine and cocaine. Thomas, Sr. obtained the drugs from suppliers in Detroit and then sold them to Anthony Ector, who in turn sold the drugs to at least 15 dealers in Warren, according to the indictment.
As part of the conspiracy, Lewis Powell II, of Warren, is charged with 14 counts of illegally possessing firearms, and faces additional charges for having body armor and firearms with obliterated serial numbers, according to the indictment. Prosecutors are seeking to forfeit more than $31,000 and six firearms seized in that investigation.
In the case of United States v. Jamie Hancock, et. al., a 49-count indictment was filed charging nine people with engaging in a conspiracy to distribute heroin. Hancock, Cornelius Butler III and Jovan Hancock purchased kilogram quantities of heroin from a supplier in Columbus, and then sold the heroin to other dealers in Warren, Dayton and elsewhere, according to the indictment. Prosecutors are seeking to forfeit more than $54,000 and a Honda motorcycle seized in that investigation.
Ricky and Henry Walker, both of Warren, are charged with conspiracy to deal firearms. The Walkers operated a flea market in Warren and purchased firearms, then bartered with flea market customers and sold firearms in exchange for items such as furniture, according to the indictment. For example, Henry Walker sold nine firearms to a flea market customer in exchange for furniture on Sept. 7, 2011. One month later, he sold 22 firearms and ammunition to a customer in exchange for furniture and other property, according to the indictment.
Antonio Tucker, 22, of Warren, is charged with six counts – three charges of distributing Oxycodone or Hydrocodone and three firearms charges, including unlawfully distributing firearms, receiving or selling a stolen firearm and having a firearm with an obliterated serial number.
Margaret Devore and David Martin are charged with distributing Oxycodone and heroin and possessing a Norinco, model SKS rifle, despite both having previous felony convictions.
Donta Murray is charged with distributing crack cocaine and possessing two shotguns, despite a previous felony conviction.
Overall, 21 people face federal firearms charges as part of the indictments unsealed today.
If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of the federal sentencing guidelines and factors unique to each case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offenses and the characteristics of the violations.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel J. Riedl and David M. Toepfer, following investigations by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the TAG Task Force, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, the Warren Police Department, the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Youngstown Police Department and the Ravenna Police Department.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.