Over 30 arrested in Ohio drug trafficking operation

Marion, Ohio (WCMH) — The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio announced Thursday that more than 30 people have been arrested in connection with two drug trafficking conspiracies in Marion.

Federal, county and local law enforcement identified 31 people in two separate drug trafficking operations suspected of distributing fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine in Marion from 2020 through mid-June. Some have been accused of complicity in both operations to distribute drugs.

“Illegal drugs, especially fentanyl, continue to wreak havoc on the American people, often with fatal consequences,” US Attorney Rebecca Rutsko said at a news conference Thursday. “We continue to see overdose deaths like this all over Marion and Ohio.”

Federal authorities indicted 24-year-old Christopher Payne as mastermind of a Marion-based drug operation from June to June 14 last year. He and 13 other defendants in Marion, Lorraine and Wyandot counties were indicted on 18 counts. This includes conspiracies to distribute controlled substances, the use of distribution and communication devices to facilitate drug trafficking.

Payne is accused of coordinating a team of conspirators to obtain fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other drugs, process cocaine into “crack” cocaine, and conceal the trafficking from law enforcement. The conspirators procured drugs from Marion and Columbus and distributed them over the phone and on social media, according to the indictment.

Payne was also charged in a second indictment against Justin Stanley, 35, for allegedly leading a human trafficking operation since September 2020. Stanley, Payne, and 16 other suspects are charged with 23 drug-related offenses.

Law enforcement seized three kilograms of fentanyl, two kilograms of cocaine, more than one kilogram of methamphetamine, 15 firearms and more than $25,500 in cash, according to the US Attorney’s Office. Some individuals are suspected of personally distributing more than one kilogram of opioids each, and the suspects in both indictments are accused of counter-monitoring law enforcement during investigations.

Twenty suspects were arrested Wednesday and taken to Cleveland for arraignment. Rutsko said 11 additional suspects will be arraigned in the future.

The suspects indicted in Operation Pain are:

  • Michael Worthington (age 28, lives in Marion)
  • Dave Davis (43 years old, lives in Marion)
  • Matthew Taylor, 28, or Marion
  • Tyler Landrum (26 years old, from Marion)
  • Dalton Gruber (42 years old, lives in Marion)
  • Donovan Caskey, 28, from Marion
  • Crystal Rivers (42) of Green Camp
  • Gerald Houseworth (31 years old, lives in Marion)
  • Sheena Stoltz, 34, of Upper Sandusky
  • Anthony Clark, 53, of Marion
  • Christina Weaver, 25, from Marion
  • Stephen Morlett (27) from Marion
  • Starla Artrecia (26) from Marion

The suspects indicted in Operation Stanley are:

  • Freddy Sanchez, 36, from Lorraine
  • Dustin Russell, 32, from Marion
  • Walter Thomas (41 years old, lives in Marion)
  • Austin Hogan (age 29, lives in Marion)
  • Kyle Renschler (26) from Prospect
  • Donna Willick, 31, from Marion
  • Lawrence Dempster, 49, of Marion
  • Ryan Kizizant, 30, lives in Marion
  • Michael Cotrill (age 22, lives in Marion)
  • Casey Taylor (47 years old, lives in Marion)
  • Derek Hesson (age 29, lives in Marion)
  • Jacob Martin (age 28, lives in Marion)
  • James Holsinger (age 29, lives in Marion)
  • Jason Smith (47 years old, lives in Marion)
  • Jeffrey Hall, 31, lives in Marion
  • Dustin Freeman (36 years old, lives in Marion)

The investigation was part of a collaboration between local, county and federal law enforcement agencies, including the Marion Metrich Task Force on Drugs, the FBI Mansfield, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, and other state agencies.

https://www.wkbn.com/news/ohio/31-people-arrested-in-marion-based-drug-trafficking-operation-busts/ Over 30 arrested in Ohio drug trafficking operation

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