Nine people indicted for ordering fentanyl and carfentanil from China and selling it in Akron and Lorain, as well as firearms and money laundering violations
Nine people were indicted in federal court for their roles in a conspiracy to bring large amounts of fentanyl and carfentanil into the United States from China and then sell the drugs in Akron and Lorain, as well as firearms and money laundering violations.
Named in the 17-count indictment are: Donte L. Gibson, 39; Audrey J. Gibson, 34; Dontaysha S. Gibson, 21; Derrick A. Adams II, 22; Lisa A. Richardson, 54, all of Akron; Lori E. Martin, 57, of Barberton; Ajarae C. Hisle, 27, of Lorain; Jamar J. Jackson, 28, of Lorain, and Garrett R. Frantz, 20, of North Canton.
All nine defendants are indicted on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl and at least 9.65 grams of carfentanil. This took place between May 2016 and February 2018, according to the indictment.
The indictment also alleges members of the conspiracy illegally used or possessed firearms, body armor and ammunition. The leaders of the conspiracy are also charged with creating companies, and buying automobiles, jewelry, handbags, furs, shoes and other items, as a way to launder their drug profits.
Donte and Audrey Gibson purchased fentanyl and carfentanil from China over the internet, and had the drugs shipped to locations in the Akron-Canton area through the U.S. Postal Service. They directed Richardson to open post office boxes throughout the area, and Richardson directed others to do the same. Audrey Gibson retained control of all the post office box keys, according to the indictment.
Richardson, Frantz and others picked up the packages containing fentanyl and carfentanil at the P.O. boxes and brought the packages to the Gibsons’ home on Popham Street. Donte Gibson cut the drugs with other white powder, turning 70 or 80 grams of pure fentanyl or carfentanil into seven kilograms of saleable product, according to the indictment.
The Gibsons then distributed the drugs to Dontaysha Gibson (who is the daughter of Donte Gibson and stepdaughter to Audrey Gibson), Adams and Jackson for sale in Akron and Lorain, according to the indictment.
The Gibsons used various residences and storage units to store the drugs and cash. They stored the drugs at their home on Popham Street until their young daughter overdosed on fentanyl she found at home, according to the indictment.
Donte Gibson, Audrey Gibson, Dontaysha Gibson, Richardson and Martin (Audrey Gibson’s mother), are also charged with conspiracy to launder money, beginning around November 2015.
Audrey Gibson in 2015 formed JayT AllServices LLC, which purported to be in the business of remodeling, painting homes and cleaning out homes. Donte Gibson later stated that he was an employee of the his wife’s company and that he helps do home improvement work, according to the indictment.
In 2016, Audrey Gibson formed Pound Cake Entertainment LLC, which used the web site IAmPoundCake.com. The web site purported to sell clothing and “one of a kind items” as well as offering access to a members-only Snapchat account featuring Audrey Gibson “being flirty or nasty depending on the day,” according to the indictment.
In 2017, Dontaysha Gibson formed G’s Car Care and Detail LLC, with the stated purpose of the company being car care sales and detailing. Donte Gibson later stated it was his daughter’s company but that he managed it for her, according to the indictment.
The Gibsons opened bank accounts in connection to all three companies, according to the indictment.
Audrey Gibson in 2017 opened a Saks Fifth Avenue Store Card and between April and December 2017 made payments on her card totaling $208,504 by using cash in store in Beachwood. She made purchases from Saks Fifth Avenue totaling $686,850 between July 2016 and February 2018 and paid for them with a combination of cash, credit cards and her Saks card. The purchases included handbags from Burberry, Chanel and Gucci, various Louis Vuitton items, Saint Laurent shoes, as well as cosmetics, fragrances and sunglasses, according to the indictment.
Donte and Audrey Gibson are charged with being felons in possession of ammunition. They were in possession of 41 rounds of ammunition in their home on Popham Street on Feb. 8, despite prior convictions that made it illegal for them to have ammunition. Donte Gibson is also charged will illegally possessing body armor. He was previously convicted in Summit County Common Pleas Court of aggravated assault with a firearms specification and trafficking in heroin. Audrey Gibson was previously convicted in Summit County Common Pleas Court of aggravated robbery and heroin trafficking, according to the indictment.
Dontaysha Gibson and Adams are charged with possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking. They were in possession of a Smith & Wesson 9 mm pistol and Rossi .38 revolver at the apartment they shared on Shadybrook Drive on Feb. 8 as part of their drug trafficking activities, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors are seeking to forfeit more than $280,000 in cash, two firearms and ammunition seized as part of the investigation, as well as the home at 2946 Popham Street in Akron.
“These defendants brought huge quantities of deadly fentanyl and carfentanil into Akron, threatening the lives of so many of our neighbors, friends, and family,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. “They used firearms and body armor to protect their drug trafficking, and set up fake companies to launder their dirty drug money.”
“This case demonstrates the lengths drug dealers will go to in order to obtain deadly drugs to feed the addiction of their customers,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony. “This group flaunted their lucrative drug trafficking organization proceeds by purchasing homes, cars and other items in an attempt to hide their cash. The FBI will continue working with our law enforcement partners to help rid our communities of the individuals that bring poison to our streets.”
“The harm inflicted by opioids is matched only by the profit potential for those who sell them,” said Ryan L. Korner, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. "This is an important victory for the citizens of Northern Ohio. These defendants not only fueled the opioid drug problem in Northern Ohio, but they supported addiction in several parts of the country. IRS-CI worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and its law enforcement partners to disrupt the flow of money -- the lifeblood that allows these organizations to proliferate. The laundering of illegal drug profits is as important and essential to drug traffickers as the very distribution of their illegal drugs. Without these ill-gotten gains, the traffickers could not finance their organizations.”
“Fentanyl and carfentanil are by far the deadliest illegal drugs that we are up against in the law enforcement community,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Francis. “As this indictment clearly demonstrates, HSI is fully committed to bringing to justice all of the criminal groups and individuals who distribute this lethal poison in our community”
Akron Police Chief Kenneth Ball said: “I feel a strong sense of relief knowing that a group of criminals that had a major role in the city's battle against drugs, and the companion, devastating effects of addiction, will be held accountable. I am proud of the work of Akron's team and our partners with the Safe Streets Task Force. Gibson and his conspirators have been justly charged, they now need to be justly tried and sentenced.”
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force -- which is comprised of agents and officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service and the Akron Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark S. Bennett.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.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.