Drug network indicted
A 17-person drug dealing network that sold heroin, cocaine and marijuana in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania was indicted Tuesday months after their former Youngstown ring leader, who court records say is cooperating with investigators, pleaded guilty in his case earlier this year.
Terrance Tarver, 39, is named as the drug ring leader that distributed drugs in Akron, Columbus and Youngstown, but is not being charged with additional crimes in the case. The investigation actually began more than three years ago.
Tarver, similar to what was described in the 2012 indictment he eventually pleaded guilty to, obtained drugs from Columbus and distributed them, charges say. In the most recent case, charges say he distributed drugs to 17 street dealers in Youngstown, Akron and Columbus who are now facing federal drug charges.
Nine were arrested as of about 3 p.m. Investigators called the 17-person network Tarver’s “second tier” of the organization.
The charges carry a maximum 10-year to life-in-prison sentence.
“As mandated by Congress, these sentences carry some very stiff penalties and that’s the message we want to ring out on the street. That if you’re gonna do this, there will be stiff penalties, long prison terms, and eventually law enforcement will catch up with you,” said Mike Tobin, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s office.
In 2012, Tarver was accused of distributing to dealers in western Pennsylvania and on Youngstown’s East Side. He eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute drugs.
Tarver was scheduled to be sentenced March 14 by U.S. Northern District Judge Dan Polster, but that was delayed because prosecutors indicated Tarver was cooperating with prosecutors in several investigations and testifying in other cases. Six counts of possessing drugs to distribute and distributing drugs were dismissed as part of Tarver’s plea agreement. Tarver also served a 33-month federal prison sentence starting in 2002 for cocaine dealing, according to records.
Both indictments relied heavily on wiretapping Tarver and alleged associates.
In the recent case, 10 facing charges are Youngstown residents, one is from Farrell, one from Sharon, two from Akron, one from Tempe, Ariz. and one from Cheraw, S.C. Agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency tapped Tarver’s phone from Sept. 6, 2011 through May 15, 2012.
Some 80 phone and text message conversations are detailed in the indictment where members are talking in code about selling drugs. In one exchange, Edward Odem III, 34, of Sharon, asked Tarver if he could by a kilogram of cocaine for $30,000.
The indictment says the ring sold drugs from Youngstown homes on Cassius Street, Elm Street and Kenneth Street.
Court and auditor records say Abdul Muhammad, who is facing drug conspiracy charges and selling drugs from his home, say he was selling the drugs from his 2020 Elm Street home. Records also say Patrick D. McWhorter, 21, and Brandon M. Williams, 20, were selling drugs from McWhorter’s 1375 Kenneth Ave. home.
The indictment says another alleged drug dealer, Phillip D. Whitman, 37, of Youngstown, was found with $28,140 on him on May 16, 2012, and that, if convicted, he would have to forfeit the money.
Tarver was arrested March 15, 2012, when a joint effort by state and federal law enforcement conducted surveillance on a residence in a suburb about 16 miles north of Columbus.
The affidavit said Drug Enforcement Agency agents conducted surveillance near 1429 Park Club Drive, Westerville. Tarver called a man accused of being a supplier from Columbus and said a meeting would take place in about 10 minutes. At about 6 p.m., the affidavit said, a Columbus surveillance team watched two Hispanic men push a Chevrolet Camaro into a garage at the apartment complex.
About 6:30 p.m. Tarver told the supplier he was at a McDonalds on Park Club Drive, where agents had observed him and later pulled into the apartment complex.
Federal and state agents then pulled over a taxi going from Columbus to Youngstown with a half-kilogram of cocaine inside.
In one wiretap, Tarver discusses purchasing two kilograms of cocaine, priced at about $33,000 per kilo. On March 4, he talked with supplier Gerardo Ramirez-Torres, 30, Columbus, about buying 26 pounds of marijuana.
In another conversation, on Oct. 28, Akron resident Ratosha Reed, 31, was collecting drug money on Youngstown’s East Side and seemed to be struggling to collect. Reed told Tarver she had collected about $3,000 and would probably get $6,000.
Those charged on Tuesday include:
|Benjamin J. Phillips||Cheraw, South Carolina||36|
|Leroy M. Hammonds||Youngstown, Ohio||41|
|Ronald O. Clark||Youngstown, Ohio||47|
|Phillip D. Whitman||Youngstown, Ohio||37|
|Gerard B. Balbirsingh||Farrell, Pennsylvania||45|
|Edward Odem, III||Sharon, Pennsylvania||34|
|Darryl C. Pippin||Youngstown, Ohio||43|
|Abdul W. Muhammad, aka Wally||Youngstown, Ohio||41|
|Clifton T. Hudson||Youngstown, Ohio||40|
|Dwayne A. Oliver||Youngstown, Ohio||42|
|Antjuan A. Adkins||Akron, Ohio||37|
|Edthaniel L. Tarver, aka Lamont||Youngstown, Ohio||37|
|Anthony J. Walker, aka Prem||Tempe, Arizona||36|
|Dontae R. Lackey||Columbus, Ohio||35|
|Quay L. Watkins||Akron, Ohio||35|
|Brandon M. Williams||Youngstown, Ohio||20|
|Patrick D. McWhorter||Youngstown, Ohio||21|
By Adam Ferrise of wkbn.com