Federal authorities filed a 40-count grand jury indictment in U.S. District Court on Aug. 1, charging 15 people for their roles in a conspiracy that brought heroin from Chicago to be sold around Ravenna and Akron, officials announced today.
An additional 18 people were indicted in the Portage County Common Pleas Court on related charges, including trafficking in heroin, cocaine and marijuana, illegal manufacture of methamphetamine, permitting drug abuse and child endangering.
All 15 people indicted in federal court face a charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin. Additional counts include distribution of heroin, maintaining houses as drug premises, possession of firearms during drug trafficking crimes, being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and related charges.
The investigation was conducted by the Portage County Drug Task Force, Portage County Prosecutor's Office, FBI, ATF, the Summit County Drug Unit and the Akron Police Department, with assistance from the U.S. Marshal's Service and the Ohio Highway Patrol. Those indicted in federal court were:
Andre S. Brumley, 29, formerly of Ravenna, but with a current address in Akron;
Rashid L. Carter, 29, formerly of Ravenna, but with a current address in Akron;
Walter Collins III, 41, of Ravenna Township;
Laverne E. Fortson, 40, formerly of Kent and Stow, but with a current address in Akron;
Hershel D. Hill, 31, with a last known address in Brimfield;
Keith E. Krause, 32, of Kent;
Andre G. White, 36, of Streetsboro; and
Marvin R. Sanders, 26, of Kent.
Brumley, Carter, Fortson, Hill and Marvin Sanders all have prior felony convictions in Portage County. Those convictions range from drug possession and trafficking to aggravated assault and weapons possession.
Also indicted on the federal level were Algyn M. Kerney, 33, of Akron; Austin Marshall, 31, of Stow; Jessica L. Money, 37, of Akron; Jasmine M.A. Sanders, 22, of Massillon; Michelle L. Spencer, 32, of Akron; Shem S. White, 31, of Akron; Chandra E. Wilson, 44, of Chicago.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. According to the federal indictments, from September 2013 through July, Andre White supplied heroin to Fortson and Carter, who then provided heroin to Brumley for distribution in and around Ravenna and Akron.
Carter also purchased heroin from a supplier in the Chicago area for distribution in and around Akron. He and Fortson supplied heroin to several dealers in Akron, some of whom in turn distributed the drug to other dealers.
Carter, Jasmine Sanders and Wilson transported heroin from Chicago to Akron and drug proceeds back to Chicago from Ohio. Fortson and Kerney provided cash to facilitate these Chicago drug transactions.
Collins and others acted as couriers in drug deals for Fortson.
Andre White, Fortson, Carter and Brumley owned and rented properties on Belden Avenue, Greenwood Avenue and Waterloo Road in Akron that they used to store, process, and distribute heroin. Andre White, Fortson, Carter, Shem White and Hill possessed firearms to protect themselves and their drug proceeds.
Carter illegally possessed a Firestar, .45-caliber pistol, a Taurus Model 85 .38-caliber revolver and ammunition on June 6, despite previous felony convictions for possession of cocaine in Portage County and failure to comply with a police officer in Summit County, according to his indictment.
Fortson also illegally possessed a Harrington and Richardson 16-gauge shotgun and ammunition on June 18, despite a previous conviction for aggravated trafficking in Portage County, according to his indictment.
The arrests and indictments were announced Aug. 1 by Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci, Portage County Sheriff David Doak, Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony of the FBI's Cleveland office, ATF Special Agent in Charge Michael Boxler, Akron Police Chief James Nice and Summit County Sheriff Steve Barry.
"It is important that we coordinate our efforts if we are to make a dent in this flood of heroin which these criminals are bringing into our counties," Vigluicci said.
"Heroin abuse is an epidemic in our community that takes lives and destroys families," Dettelbach said. "We will continue to target drug traffickers while also working to reduce demand and get treatment for those who need it."
"These individuals collaborated to deliver poison to our streets and we collaborated to bring them to jail," Anthony said. "This take down is another outstanding example of what can be accomplished when local, state and federal agencies work together to protect our community."
"This is an example of our working relationships with other law enforcement in the community to attack our most serious problem," Nice said.
"ATF's mission is to identify, pursue, and perfect criminal cases against individuals who illegally possess and use firearms in furtherance of their criminal activities," Boxler said. "We will continue to work with the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Akron Police Department's Drug Unit, the Portage County (Drug Task Force) and others to ensure that those who foster violence in this region are held to account for their activities."
"This operation is an example of the proactive/zero-tolerance approach we are taking in response to the heroin epidemic," Barry said. "It is crucial to shut down the dealers and get the heroin off of our streets."