Cocaine trafficker pleads guilty to several felonies

A man who officials have said is a major drug trafficker pleaded guilty Wednesday to 11 felonies in two separate cases.

Jerome A. Johnson, 36, of Zanesville, pleaded guilty in one case to engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, two counts of trafficking in cocaine, all first-degree felonies, another count of trafficking in cocaine as a second-degree felony, two final counts of trafficking in cocaine as third-degree felonies, and four counts of permitting drug abuse, fifth-degree felonies.

Several of the charges carry mandatory prison sentences and major drug offender specifications.

In the second case, he pleaded guilty to escape, a second-degree felony.

Across both cases, he faces a maximum of more than 50 years in prison.

The drug charges stem from a months-long, ongoing investigation in drug trafficking in Muskingum County by the Zanesville Police Department and Muskingum County Sheriff's Office special response teams.

In September, Central Ohio Drug Enforcement Task Force agents performed a series of controlled buys from Johnson for various amounts of cocaine, Assistant Muskingum County Prosecutor John Litle said in court. At the time, Johnson had been released from prison just three weeks before.

Johnson was arrested in January at a home in Zanesville, and officers allowed him to go back inside the house to retrieve asthma medication, Litle said.

Instead, Litle said, he sneaked out the back door of the residence, which is where the escape charge stems from, and was picked up by a car. He wasn't arrested again until April, according to online court records.

From the same investigation, officials also arrested Gregory L. Butcher, Tydell L. Butcher and Jayana R. Pantaleo, who all have cases pending in Muskingum County Common Pleas Court.

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