Elyria Narcotics Unit, partnering agencies nab 30 in suspected family-run cocaine trafficking investigation

A multi-county drug investigation by the Elyria Police Department and several other agencies has resulted in the arrests of 30 large-scale drug offenders.

The Elyria Police Narcotics Unit — in partnership with the Lorain Police Narcotics Bureau, Lorain County Sheriff’s Drug Task Force, City of Elyria, and the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office — worked together to conduct multiple drug raids, bringing down 30 suspects involved in an alleged multi-county cocaine operation.

While executing search warrants, authorities seized roughly 3.3 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated street value of $400,000, 20 grams of heroin, 97.9 grams of marijuana, five handguns, 10 vehicles and $84,163 in cash.

In a press conference held at the Elyria Police Department March 18, Elyria Police Sgt. James Welsh, said that on Feb. 13 authorities launched a joint investigation into a multi-kilogram cocaine network, referred to as the Burns’ Drug Trafficking Operation, operating throughout the county.

The the investigation was initiated and the case developed after narcotics agents’ gathered a decade’s worth of information on the Burns, Milton and Tillman families who were found to have been distributing large amounts of cocaine into the county from Cuyahoga County, Welsh said.

“For every large drug conspiracy, you need a few things to be successful,” Welsh said. “The first is a source of supply, buyers, facilitators, couriers and a good product to distribute throughout your area. This organization had all of those.”

Throughout the investigation, authorities gained evidence that Jarvis Burns, 33, of Sheffield Lake, and his cousin, Travis Milton, 32, of Elyria, purchased $43,000 worth of cocaine from Cleveland residents Christopher Craig, 43, and Bernard Washington, 44, Welsh said.

Burns and Milton, who were determined to be part of the drug operation which consisted solely of members of the Burns, Milton and Tillman families, were found to have sold the drugs throughout Lorain County by the ounce, Welsh said.

Burns, considered a leader of the family operation, reportedly used his families’ vehicles and homes to launder, transport, sell and hide the illegal drugs for the benefit of the organization while authorities believe Milton arranged the cocaine dealings with Craig and Washington who supplied the operation with drugs from Cuyahoga County.

Most of the operation’s transactions, Welsh noted, took place at 3 Tattersal Court, the home of Elyria resident Grace Milton — Burns’ and Milton’s grandmother.

Lorain County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Dennis Cavanaugh, whose office actively worked with the Elyria narcotics unit to apprehend the suspects, said the investigation was truly a cooperative effort between partnering agencies, the City of Elyria and the county Prosecutor’s Office.

“Obviously, this is a very large-scale investigation,” Cavanaugh said. “Not one agency can conduct this investigation on their own. We’re all kind of proud of the agencies working together and pulling together their resources and manpower to accomplish this.”

“Although supporting these types of investigations can be quite costly, we believe it’s something that is so important and that’s why the city worked to reinstitute the Elyria Narcotics Unit and Neighborhood Impact Unit back in May 2013,” said Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda Brinda. “I can’t thank the Elyria Police Department and narcotics unit enough for their efforts to keep our city and county safe. I just hope the community appreciates what they are doing because it’s really making a difference.”

The following suspects were arrested and charged in connection to the family-run organization:

Christopher Craig, Bernard Washington, Jarvis Burns, Travis Milton, Grace Milton, 67; Donald Milton, 51; Kevin Riggins, 38; James Williams, 43; Tynisha Johnson, 38; Amos Jackson, 31; Cleveland Todd II, 38; James Burns, 33; Dorothy Walker, 28;, Tanniquea Garner, 33; Cleveland Todd Jr., 57;Ebony Craighead, 33; Grace Milton, 46; Johnny Golson, 43; Demond Thompson, 34; Michael Grissom, 20; Paul Wright, 23; Melanie Bugg, 22; Sonnyta Rudolph, 36; Joshua Scott, 27; Antonio Ward, 31; Anthony, Barnhill, 22; Oneta Roberts, 38; Darryl Johnson Jr., 24; and Jordan Silva, 19.

All are Elyria residents except for Burns, who lives in Sheffiled Lake; Craig and Washington, who live in Cleveland; and Craighead, Garner and Williams, who live in Lorain

All 30 suspects are currently being held at the Lorain County Jail on cash bonds, according to information released by the Elyria Police Narcotics Unit.

As agencies work to bring the investigation to a close, Welsh said authorities anticipate that more arrests will be made in coming days.

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