Four Akron men and two brothers from California hid drugs inside engine blocks they shipped across the country as a way to smuggle more than 220 pounds of cocaine into Akron/Canton area over the past year, law enforcement officials announced.
The men were among a dozen people named in a federal indictment charging offenses related to cocaine and marijuana trafficking and related financial crimes. The indictment was unsealed today.
“This indictment shows the lengths dealers will go to get drugs into our communities,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “But it also underscores the commitment of law enforcement to doing intensive, sophisticated investigations and choking off the drug supply.”
“This successful investigation is yet another example of joint law enforcement efforts. Federal and local law enforcement agencies in Akron work together every day to combat the most significant threats to the community and we are proud of the strong partnerships we have built together,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland Office. “The Greater Akron Safe Streets/HIDTA Task Force, comprised of FBI, DEA, ATF, Akron Police Department, and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit work tirelessly to thwart creative efforts such as these of hiding cocaine in engine blocks to ship illegal drugs for distribution.”
Those charged are:
■Dante L. Branch, 46, Akron, Ohio
■Dale E. Colbert, 49, Victorville, California
■Darryl A. Colbert, 49, Victorville, California
■Louis D. Harmon, 42, Akron, Ohio
■Darin L. Wright, 35, Akron, Ohio
■Wesley A. Black, Jr., 44, Akron, Ohio
■Regina L. Skinner, 40, Canton, Ohio
■Marvin D. Skinner, 42 Canton, Ohio
■Derrick Watson, 31, Massillon, Ohio
■Jeremy S. Duncan, 34, Springfield, Missouri
■Gavin D. Parker, 28, Akron, Ohio
■Gerald D. Griffin, 39, Akron, Ohio
Count one charges Dante L. Branch, Dale E. Colbert, Darryl A. Colbert, Louis D. Harmon, Darin L. Wright, and Wesley A. Black, Jr. with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.
The cocaine was hidden inside engine blocks and then shipped from a shop in Ontario, California to locations in Akron and Canton, according to the indictment. The conspiracy took place between mid-2011 and April 2012, according to the indictment.
Nine shipments involving a total of at least 100 kilograms of cocaine were made this way. The drugs were then taken to private homes and distributed to other dealers, according to the indictment.
Dale E. Colbert and Darryl A. Colbert are charged in count two with attempted possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on March 12, 2012.
Count three charges Dante L. Branch, Dale E. Colbert, Darryl A. Colbert, Louis D. Harmon, Darin L. Wright, Wesley A. Black, Jr., Regina L. Skinner, and Marvin D. Skinner with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. The indictment alleges the conspiracy existed from approximately the spring 2011 through in or about June 2012 and involved the shipment of marijuana from California to the Akron/Canton area through the U.S. Postal Service and other commercial package delivery companies.
Count four charges Derrick Watson, Jeremy S. Duncan, Gavin D. Parker, and Gerald D. Griffin with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. The indictment alleges the conspiracy existed from approximately spring 2011 through in or about June 2012 and involved the delivery of marijuana from California to Akron via a semi-tractor trailer.
Dale E. Colbert, Darryl A. Colbert, and Regina L. Skinner are charged in count five with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.
Finally, Regina L. Skinner is charged in counts six through eight with structuring financial transactions to evade bank reporting requirements.
“This investigation successfully crippled a large drug-trafficking organization that supplied cocaine and marijuana into communities throughout northern Ohio,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Corso. “The seizure of more than 100 kilos of cocaine from this organization is significant, and this indictment makes it clear that no matter how creative the drug traffickers attempt to be in moving their product, the DEA and our law enforcement partners are consistently working together to identify and eliminate their schemes.”
“We take pride in working together with all of the agencies involved,” said Inspector Bill Holland with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. “We all share the same goal, which is making the community safer by dismantling drug organizations and taking dangerous drugs off of our streets.”
Akron Police Chief James Nice said, “This is the type of result that takes place when our Anti-Violence Bureau works jointly with all our law enforcement partners.” If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendants’ prior criminal records, if any; the defendants’ roles in the offenses; and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
The investigation was conducted under the U.S. Attorney’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) which is part of a national program that seeks to identify, investigate, and prosecute significant drug trafficking enterprises by utilizing multiple investigative and prosecuted resources. The investigation also involved coordinated law enforcement action in Riverside, California; Nashville, Tennessee; and Springfield, Missouri.
The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Akron Area Safe Streets Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Akron Police Department Narcotics Unit, Summit County Drug Unit, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Samuel A. Yannucci and Robert E. Bulford.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.