Six face charges after drug sting in Willoughby

An undercover drug sting June 4 in Willoughby led to the arrest of six Ohio men suspected of heroin trafficking and use crimes.  The men were arrested June 5 and arraigned on charges related to alleged heroin trafficking and use in Lake County.

After the undercover operation at the Motel 6 on Maplegrove Road, the Lake County Narcotics Agency on Thursday arrested Taurian J. Thomas, 25, of 15303 School Ave. in Cleveland Heights; Cleveland residents Rico D. Mauldin, 25, of 11147 E. 79th St.; Devante R. Smith, 20, and Runnell T. Smith, 20, both of 1333 E. 185th St.; and Reminderville residents Genesis Z. Fair, 24, of 3055 Landing Lane, and David Clark III, 24, of 10047 Crows Nest Cove.

Officers seized about 5 grams of heroin, three vehicles, $962 in cash and drug paraphernalia, according to a Lake County Narcotics Agency news release.

Thomas and Ronnell Smith are charged with fourth-degree felony trafficking in heroin; Mauldin is charged with fifth-degree felony trafficking in heroin.  Devante Smith and Fair are charged with fifth-degree felony permitting drug abuse.  Clark is charged with fifth-degree felony heroin possession, according to Willoughby Municipal Court records.

“Five other individuals were also detained and questioned by police at the scene, however, they were later released pending further investigation into the matter,” wrote David A. Frisone, director of the agency. “Authorities anticipate additional charges as a result of the evidence obtained during this investigation.”

Clark is scheduled for a pretrial hearing June 19.  The rest of the defendants are scheduled for a June 12 pretrial.  Magistrate Brooke Kocab set cash or surety bonds at $50,000 for Thomas and Mauldin and at $20,000 for Ronnell Smith, none of which was posted.  Kocab set bond at 10 percent of $10,000 for Devante Smith and Clark and at 10 percent of $5,000 for Fair, which were all posted.  Fifth-degree felonies are punishable by up to a year in prison while those convicted of fourth-degree felonies could face up to 11/2 years.

“In the last six weeks alone, police have arrested a total of 14 suspects on drug-related charges and seized nearly 40 grams of heroin, 10 grams of cocaine, 2 ounces of marihuana, over $8,000 in cash and seven vehicles,” Frisone wrote.  “Police intend to continue these operations throughout the summer until drug dealers get the hint: if you come to Lake County to sell narcotics, you will be arrested and go to jail, and you’ll also lose your drugs, money, cell phones and cars in the process.”


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