As the number of deaths from heroin overdoses in the Toledo area continues to climb, federal authorities announced Thursday that they had put at least a small dent in the trafficking of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana into northwest Ohio.
Twenty-six people were named in a 55-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charging them with conspiracy for their part in the operation that brought large amounts of illegal drugs to Toledo — more than $1 million worth since the investigation dubbed Operation Double Vision began in 2010 by the FBI and Toledo’s Metro Drug Task Force.
“This was a sophisticated organization that moved over $1 million worth of heroin across the border and across state lines to our community,” Ava Dustin, an assistant U.S. attorney, said at a news conference.
About 100 law enforcement officers went out beginning at 6 a.m. Thursday to arrest the 22 suspects who were not yet in custody. Eric Smith, assistant special agent in charge of the Cleveland division of the FBI, said all but four were arrested by afternoon.
Authorities still are seeking Federico Perez, 25; Willie Edward Smith, 38, and Osvaldo Perez, 60, all of Toledo, and Santos Flores, 34, of Oregon. Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to call the FBI at 419-243-6122.
“The indictment and arrest of these individuals is a significant first step toward stemming an unprecedented wave of illegal narcotics plaguing Toledo and Lucas County,” Agent Smith said, adding that the effort was “critical in stopping a near-epidemic rate of heroin overdose, which stood at 60 deaths in May and is posed to be as high as 120 by year’s end.”
The ring — allegedly led by Alejandro Garcia, 44, of Toledo — brought drugs from Arizona, California, the Chicago area, and Mexico to Toledo and sold them across the city — from the Ravine Park Village housing complex in East Toledo to the Franklin Park Mall in West Toledo, from Heatherdowns Boulevard in South Toledo to North Ontario Street in the north end, Ms. Dustin said.
Also indicted were: Regina Navarro, 36; Sean Machaterre, 31; Dicki Isom, 33; Daryl Mickles, Jr., 31; Keith Hubbell, 30; David Berrera, Jr., 40; Juan Montano, 35; Daniel Montano, 26; Yousvani Gacita, 34; Davi Mata, 32; Juan Rivera, 34; Paulo Gonzalez, 27; Abdul Shabazz, 39; Davalon Brown, 28; James Munoz, 37; Victoria Santellana, 31; Daniel Barboza, 38; Eric Mays-Clausen, 41; Randolph Kemp, 53, and Jacqueline Jaquez, 40, all of Toledo, and Anthony Rudess, 42, of Curtice, Ohio.
The 43-page indictment details dates, times, and locations of numerous drug transactions and phone conversations and text messages exchanged among the defendants. It seeks the forfeiture of Garcia’s home at 1509 Navarre Ave., Ms. Navarro’s home at 625 Parker Ave., nine automobiles, six firearms, and more than $6,800 in cash. Ms. Dustin called the ring a “large-scale drug conspiracy,” saying others could be indicted as the investigation continues.
Federal prosecutors, she said, are working with the FBI, Toledo police, and the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office to combat the heroin epidemic, taking a four-pronged approach that involves prevention, treatment, health-care policy, and law enforcement.
Sheriff John Tharp said his office is committed to its recently established Addiction Resource Unit, a four-person squad created to work with addicts and their families to get treatment.
Still, the sheriff said, “There comes a time when it’s absolutely necessary to make arrests, to lock up these individuals that are responsible for dealing drugs.”
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.