17 people are facing charges of taking part in a heroin trafficking ring in Stark County.
The 126-count indictment was announced in Canton by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and law enforcement officials from Stark County. Officials say the operation brought heroin into Stark County from Detroit and New York City.
14 of the 17 indicted have been arrested on numerous drug trafficking charges. A number of state, federal and local agencies took part in the investigation.
(Ohio Attorney General's office, news release) Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine joined Stark County Sheriff George Maier, Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to announce a 126-count indictment against 17 individuals accused of taking part in a drug trafficking organization operating in Stark County.
A joint investigation by the Stark County Sheriff's Office Metropolitan Drug Task Force (SMDTF), DEA, and Ohio Attorney General DeWine's Heroin Unit uncovered the operation during an investigation that spanned several months.
Attorneys with Attorney General DeWine's Special Prosecutions Section and Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, acting as special assistants to the Stark County Prosecutor's Office, presented the case to a Stark County Grand Jury last Thursday. The Grand Jury returned the 126-count indictment on charges including Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity, Trafficking in Heroin, Conspiracy to Trafficking in Heroin, Complicity to Trafficking in Heroin, Attempted Trafficking in Heroin and Possession of Heroin. A number of the charges include Major Drug Offender specifications.
Arrest warrants have been issued for all 17 individuals, and investigators arrested the following suspects as of this afternoon:
Daemon Ford, 37, Paris Township
Jennifer Carpenter, 37, Alliance
Michael Green, 39, Canton
Jacqueline Longobardi, 38, Alliance
Lateef Montgomery, 37, Massillon
Bruce Moseley, 30, Cambridge
Tara Olis, 20, Alliance
Kim Smith, 59, Canton
Christie Jarvis, 31, Canton
Jessica Ackerman, 32, Alliance
James Ross, 44, Canton
Shelby Marlatt, 31, Louisville
Erik Marlatt, 31, Louisville
Melissa Marteny, 31, Massillon
Authorities with the SMDTF and DEA launched the investigation in the spring of 2014, identifying Daemon Ford as the ringleader of the organization trafficking heroin to Stark and surrounding counties from Detroit and New York City. With the assistance of the Attorney General's Heroin Unit, authorities were then able to identify the additional 16 individuals who are also accused of being part of the criminal conspiracy.
"Heroin addiction is an epidemic in Ohio, and this case is a perfect example of what can happen when state, local, and federal investigators and prosecutors team up and combine their resources to go after those bringing this poison into our communities," said Attorney General DeWine. "As this case in Stark County shows, we are accelerating our efforts to dismantle drug trafficking organizations that are fueling addiction across the state."
"This investigation and subsequent arrests are a great example of how collaboration with our state, local, and federal partners has contributed to a safer Stark County," said Sheriff Maier.
"Christmas has come early for the citizens of Stark County and the State of Ohio. With the indictment and subsequent arrest of these seventeen individuals, a major blow has been made to the heroin trafficking operation in our community," said Prosecutor Ferrero. "The selling and dissemination of this poisonous drug must stop. I commend the efforts of all law enforcement agencies in this investigation for a job well done."
Additional counts listed in the indictment include felony charges of Trafficking in Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine, Conspiracy to Trafficking in Cocaine, Complicity to Trafficking in Cocaine, and Having Weapons Under Disability.
Attorney General DeWine created the Heroin Unit in 2013 after statistics gathered by the Attorney General's Office revealed an increasing rate of heroin overdose deaths across the state. The Unit is made up of authorities from the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), Special Prosecutions Section, and Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission. The Unit also includes prevention and recovery specialists from the Attorney General's Office.
The Stark County Sheriff's Office Metropolitan Drug Task Force includes investigators from the Stark County Sheriff's Office, Canton Police Department, Jackson Township Police Department, Canal Fulton Police Department, Lawrence Township Police Department, Louisville Police Department, and North Canton Police Department.
In addition to the SMDTF, DEA, and the Attorney General's Heroin Unit, the Ohio Highway Patrol, Northeast Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), and U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio assisted in the investigation. The U.S. Marshals Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation are assisting investigators in serving today's arrest warrants.
A copy of the 126-count indictment can be found on the Attorney General's website.