Skip to main content
Press Release

Former Columbus police officer sentenced to 9 years in prison for trafficking fentanyl, accepting bribes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A former Columbus police officer was sentenced in federal court today to 108 months in prison for conspiring to distribute more than eight kilograms of fentanyl and accepting bribes to protect the transportation of cocaine.


Marco R. Merino, 45, of Columbus, was arrested by federal agents in September 2021 and pleaded guilty in February 2022.


“We cannot allow those who took an oath to uphold law and order to begin violating the law,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker. “This office will hold lawbreakers accountable, no matter their profession.”


From June to September 2021, Merino conspired with another Columbus police officer to traffic fentanyl. Merino distributed fentanyl to another individual on at least three occasions and accepted $32,500 for approximately one of the kilograms of fentanyl.


In March, April, May, August and September 2021, Merino accepted a total of $45,000 in cash in exchange for protecting the safe transport of at least 47 kilograms of cocaine. Merino possessed a firearm in furtherance of the protection of cocaine. Unbeknownst to Merino, there was no actual cocaine and each of the transactions was controlled by federal law enforcement.


Court documents detail that Merino tried to recruit a confidential informant to traffic drugs with him. Merino promised law enforcement protection to the individual and said he could intervene if other law enforcement agencies attempted to investigate the confidential informant.


Fellow former Columbus police officer John J. Kotchkoski, 33, of Marengo, Ohio, awaits sentencing.


Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division; Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost; and Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. Assistant United States Attorneys Peter K. Glenn-Applegate and Elizabeth A. Geraghty are representing the United States in this case.


# # #

Updated February 2, 2023

Drug Trafficking