Seventeen people, including 10 from Medina County, were indicted Wednesday on federal charges for their alleged roles in a drug ring.
They are accused in a conspiracy to buy cocaine and cook the drug into crack cocaine and sell it around Medina County.
Those indicted in the U.S. District Court of Northern Ohio are:
- Douglas Cameron, 48, Medina;
- Jennifer Cayce, 38, Medina;
- Dale Lind, 58, Medina;
- Aaron Watson, 31, Medina;
- Michael Powell, 52, Medina;
- John Spickler, 38, Brunswick;
- Carlos Tripp, 44, Medina;
- Fannie Tripp, 60, Medina;
- Jermaine Tripp, 36, Medina;
- John Wise, 53, Medina;
- Troy Bankhead, 47, of Cleveland;
- Dona Battle, 44, Cleveland;
- William Battle, 45, Cleveland;
- Felicia Finowski, 49, Columbia Station;
- Raymel King, 30, Cleveland;
- Erica Latten, 29, Cleveland;
- Anthony Patterson, 50, Columbia Station.
The Medina County Drug Task Force played a major role in the investigation.
“Federally, this was the biggest case we’ve ever been involved with,” said Gary Hubbard, director of the task force. “The scope of it is above and beyond anything we’ve been involved with.”
The investigation resulted in several significant seizures, including more than 37 pounds of cocaine, $516,975 in cash, a tractor-trailer, five other vehicles and five firearms.
“This organization used homes and apartments to cook crack cocaine, which it sold in and around Medina,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said in a statement. “It was a spoke in a larger organization that trafficked a lot of cocaine. These defendants will now be held accountable for their actions.”
Hubbard said 16 of the indicted individuals were transported by U.S. marshals and sheriff’s deputies to the Federal Courthouse in Akron Wednesday morning and jailed.
Watson had not been arrested as of Wednesday afternoon.
Hubbard said the investigation started in March 2016 and was a cooperative effort between the Drug Enforcement Agency, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Medina County Drug Task Force. The investigation consisted of undercover purchases of drugs, the execution of search warrants and other investigative techniques, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorneys Office’s Northern District of Ohio.
Hubbard said several other people were charged in Medina County Common Pleas Court with cocaine possession, a fifth-degree felony, and booked into Medina County Jail. They include:
- Alan Alcorn, 47, Medina;
- Jerald Brasty, 53, Valley City;
- Christopher Camiolo, 44, Berea;
- Vinetta L. Hendershot, 54, Wadsworth;
- Michael Huffman, 46, Lodi;
- Nathaniel Reed, 20, Medina;
- Jeff L. Rees, 53, Nova;
- Rocco Rodriquez, 38, Brunswick;
- Janet F. Truden, 60, Medina;
- Donald White, 63, Medina.
County Prosecutor S. Forrest Thompson said most of them will be prosecuted in common pleas court.
Thompson said his office was involved in the federal and state indictments.
“We feel very good about it,” he said. “It was a collaborative effort between the feds and us. It came off without a hitch.”
According to the 62-page federal indictment unsealed Wednesday:
- Bankhead allegedly sold large amounts of powder cocaine to Dona Battle between August 2016 and February 2017. Battle then cooked the cocaine into crack cocaine at 26799 Royalton Road, Columbia Station (the residence of Patterson and Finowski); 5651 Columbia Road, Medina (the residence of Cameron and Cayce); and 1406 W. 75th St., Apt. 3, Cleveland (the residence of Latten).
- Dona Battle then allegedly sold the crack cocaine to several other dealers, including Watson, Lind, Carlos Tripp, William Battle, King and Jermaine Tripp, who then sold it to drug users.
- Dona Battle used 417 Bronson St., Apt. A, Medina (the residence of Fannie Tripp), and 997 Substation Road, Brunswick Hills Township (the residence of Spickler), as drug houses from which he could sell crack and powder cocaine.
- Spickler, Latten, Wise, Patterson and Finowski also provided transportation for Battle to obtain crack and powder cocaine for further distribution.
“Putting a stop to this criminal conspiracy is significant,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Plancon said in a statement. “The seizure of 37 pounds of cocaine and over half a million dollars of drug-dealing proceeds indicates that this group was connected with drug traffickers at the highest levels. Halting their activities makes everyone in the region safer. The efforts of the Medina County Drug Task Force and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation have been particularly integral to this investigation’s success.”
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he created a specialized unit at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to focus on large-scale drug trafficking operations like this one.
“We are pleased that we were able to work with local and federal authorities to help bring down this drug trafficking organization,” he said in a statement. “These drugs have no place on our streets and our agents will continue to work diligently to investigate those who are pushing drugs in Ohio.”
Hubbard said agents from his task force and the Cleveland DEA initiated the investigation.
“The intent was to address local drug-trafficking issues in the city of Medina with a focus on repeat drug-trafficking offenders,” he said. “The hard work and commitment by all of the agents involved resulted in one of the largest drug trafficking investigations and narcotics seizures in Medina County history. This investigation led to the seizure of the 17 kilos of cocaine, six ounces of heroin and over $500,000 in U.S. currency that was first reported in February 2017.”
Other agencies involved in the case were the Medina County Sheriff’s Office, Medina Police Department, National Guard Intelligence, Ohio Highway Patrol, Cleveland Division of Police, Cleveland Heights Police Department, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, Lorain County Drug Task Force, Lake County Narcotics, Akron Police Department, Summit County Drug Unit, Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Marshals and Suburban Police Anti-Crime Network Drug Enforcement Unit. Medina County Prosecutor’s Office assisted on the case. It’s being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Henry F. DeBaggis.
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.