100 people charged in large-scale fentanyl, carfentanil, heroin and cocaine trafficking ring in Ohio

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio - One hundred people have been charged in connection with a large-scale fentanyl, carfentanil, heroin, and cocaine trafficking ring that has operated between Cuyahoga and Columbiana counties since 2014.

According to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, the amount of fentanyl and carfentanil that was allegedly trafficked into the area "was enough to kill every single person in Columbiana County, plus every man, woman, and child in 11 other nearby counties."

Investigators say the people charged are responsible for funneling the equivalent of approximately 1 million potentially fatal doses of carfentanil and approximately 350,000 potentially fatal doses of fentanyl into Columbiana County alone.

Authorities began serving arrest warrants as part of "Operation Big Oak" on Monday.

Three Cuyahoga County men, who are the alleged ringleaders of the operation, are accused of operating the drug ring as part of the “Down the Way” criminal street gang.  The men are all facing multiple charges related to the trafficking of fentanyl and the trafficking of heroin and/or cocaine.

A fourth Cuyahoga County man, who was also identified as an alleged ringleader of the organization, is accused of trafficking carfentanil, fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine as part of the drug operation.

According to investigators, the four suspects allegedly sold the drugs to dozens of mid-level traffickers who then sold the drugs across Columbiana County.

A total of 51 alleged mid-level traffickers from Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Tuscarawas, and Mahoning counties are also facing one or more charges related to the trafficking of fentanyl, carfentanil, heroin, or cocaine. 

Forty-five lower-level suspects were also indicted after investigators found that they allegedly contributed to the actions of the drug trafficking organization.

Two suspects are charged with felony assault for allegedly exposing East Liverpool Police Officer Chris Green to fentanyl during a May 2017 traffic stop conducted as part of the investigation into this drug trafficking ring. Officer Green survived the exposure after being revived with four doses of naloxone.

In total, the 756-count indictment lists one or more of the following charges: engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, participating in a criminal gang, aggravated trafficking in drugs (fentanyl, carfentanil, or oxycodone), aggravated trafficking in heroin, trafficking in heroin, trafficking in heroin in the vicinity of a school, aggravated trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in cocaine, attempted trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in the vicinity of a juvenile, trafficking in marijuana, assault, corrupting another with drugs, having weapons under disability, permitting drug abuse, tampering with evidence, possession of cocaine, aggravated possession of drugs.

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