Eight people were indicted in federal court their roles in a conspiracy selling cocaine and crack cocaine in and around Lima, law enforcement officials said.
Those named in the 11-count federal indictment are: Don Burns, 44; Joseph Downton, 39; Earl Hall, 37; DeJuan James, 31; Michael Jones, 40; DeJuan Keys, 29; Larry Nathan, 53, and Chivas Shurelds, 29. All eight live in Lima and all are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine.
Several additional people were indicted in the Allen County Court of Common Pleas as part of the case.
Burns, Downton, Hall, James, Jones, Keys, Nathan and Shurelds conspired together between November 2016 and the present to distribute large amounts of cocaine and crack cocaine. Downton and Hall are responsible for distributing at least five kilograms of cocaine, according to the 11-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court.
Burns, Downton, Hall, James, Keys, Nathan and Shurelds purchased cocaine from Demos Watkins. Watkins pleaded guilty to drug charges in federal court earlier this year and is awaiting sentencing.
Nathan converted the cocaine he bought from Watkins into crack cocaine which he sold to others himself or through intermediaries, including Jones, according to the federal indictment.
Watkins used a house on North McDonel Street to stash the drugs he sold to the defendants, according to the indictment.
“This is a network that sold large amounts of cocaine and crack cocaine in Lima,” said U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman. “These indictments are a great example of law enforcement working together to make our community safer.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony said: “These arrests demonstrate the collaborative efforts law enforcement engage in on a daily basis. In this case the sharing of information from a traffic stop where illegal narcotics were discovered led to a 19-month joint law enforcement investigation resulting in numerous arrests. The FBI will continue to devote all available resources to work collectively with our law enforcement partners to make sure those bringing poison to our streets are held accountable.”
Allen County Sheriff Matt Treglia said: “The West Central Ohio Crime Task Force greatly appreciates the support it has received from state and federal investigators while conducting this multi-agency, multi-jurisdiction investigation. This long-term thorough investigation, which culminated in a well-executed criminal roundup this morning, is a great example of how interagency cooperation can significantly disrupt the drug trade in any community in this state. We look forward to continuing a strong partnership with the F.B.I. and Ohio B.C.I. until the day we have completely eliminated the drug epidemic in our community.”
Lima Police Chief Kevin J. Martin said: On behalf of the Lima Police Department, I would like to express our extreme gratitude for the Allen County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and the many other Criminal Justice Organizations that have worked together to help send a loud and clear message that illegal drug dealing will not be allowed in the Lima community.
“As part of the West Central Ohio Crimes Task Force, the Ohio National Guard is extremely honored to partner in support of Allen County residents and the statewide fight against illicit drugs,” said Lt. Col. Michael Flaherty, Ohio National Guard Counterdrug Task Force director. “Staff Sgt. Vanessa Gazarek, an Ohio National Guard CDTF criminal analyst, provided invaluable intelligence support to assist local and federal law enforcement during this investigation.”
This case was investigated by the FBI, Allen County Sheriff’s Office, Lima Police Department, Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio National Guard Counter Drug Task Force and Delphos Police Department.
The federal case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alissa M. Sterling and Thomas P. Weldon.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence 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 violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
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.