A 40-count indictment was filed in U.S. District Court charging 15 people for their roles in a conspiracy that brought heroin from Chicago to be sold around Ravenna and Akron, law enforcement officials announced today.
An additional 18 people were indicted in the Portage County Court of Common Pleas on related state charges including trafficking in heroin, trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in marijuana, illegal manufacture of methamphetamine, permitting drug abuse and child endangering.
The arrests and indictments were announced by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven M. Dettelbach, Portage County Prosecutor Vic Vigluicci, FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony, ATF Special Agent in Charge Michael Boxler, Akron Police Chief James Nice, Portage County Sheriff David Doak and Summit County Sheriff Steve Barry.
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.
Those indicted in federal court are:
Rashid L. Carter, 29, of Akron; Andre G. White, 36, of Streetsboro; Laverne Eugene Fortson, 40, of Akron; Andre S. Brumley, 29, of Akron; Hershell D. Hill, 31, of Ravenna; Jasmine M.A. Sanders, 22, of Massillon; Chanda E. Wilson, 44, of Chicago; Shem S. White, 31, of Akron; Jessica L. Money, 37, of Akron; Austin Marshall, 31, of Stow; Algyn M. Kerney, 33, of Akron; Walter Collins III, 41, of Ravenna; Michelle L. Spencer, 32, of Akron; Marvin R. Sanders, 26, of Kent, and Keith E. Krause, 32, of Kent.
“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 takedown 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.
“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.
“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,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Michael Boxler. “We will continue to work with the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Akron Police Department’s Drug Unit, the Portage County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit 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.”
According to the federal indictment:
The conspiracy took place from as early as September 2013 and continuing through July 2014. During that time, Andre G. White supplied heroin to Laverne Eugene Fortson and Rashid L. Carter. In turn, Fortson and Carter provided heroin to Andre T. Brumley for distribution in and around Akron and Ravenna.
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 M.A. Sanders and Chanda E. Wilson transported heroin from Chicago to Akron and drug proceeds back to Chicago from Ohio. Fortson and Algyn M. Kerney provided cash to facilitate these Chicago drug transactions.
Walter Collins, III, and others facilitated heroin transactions for Fortson by, among other things, acting as couriers.
White, Fortson, Carter and Brumley owned and rented properties that they used to store, process, and distribute heroin. Those properties were on Belden Avenue, Greenwood Avenue and Waterloo Road in Akron.
It was further part of the conspiracy that White, Fortson, Carter, Shem S. White and Hershell D. Hill possessed firearms to protect themselves and their drug proceeds.
Carter illegally possessed a Firestar, .45-caliber pistol, a Taurus, model 85, .38 special revolver and ammunition on June 6, 2014, despite previous convictions for possession of cocaine in Portage County and failure to comply with a police officer in Summit County.
Fortson illegally possessed a Harrington and Richardson 16-gauge shotgun and ammunition on June 18, 2014, despite a previous conviction for aggravated trafficking in Portage County.
If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense 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.
This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Summit County Drug Unit, the Akron Police Department and the Portage County Drug Unit, with assistance from the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Portage County Prosecutor’s Office. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David M. Toepfer and M. Kendra Klump.
An indictment in 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.