Nearly 100 drug dealers were charged Wednesday in several sweeping state and federal indictments in which different drug rings based in Detroit and Dayton sold heroin, prescription painkillers and crack cocaine in Warren and the surrounding areas.
Law enforcement agents said the chief case unsealed on Wednesday involves the Detroit-to-Warren drug pipeline in which Valentino Thomas Sr., 41, of Detroit, sold mass amounts of drugs to dealers in Warren, Bristolville and Ravenna.
Others were charged with dealing illegal guns to felons at a flea market, selling crack in Warren and western Pennsylvania and dealing heroin in Warren and Dayton.
Area leaders have long blamed the Detroit pipeline for violence in the city, including several murders in the last few years. Federal authorities called the case “Operation Little D-Town.”
Some 175 Federal and local law enforcement agents swarmed the area early Wednesday, arresting 65 people in the charges. Others were arrested in Detroit, Dayton and Columbus.
U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said 21 guns were seized by agents on Wednesday, bringing the total illegal guns seized during the investigations to 132.
More than half, 55, of those charged Wednesday are facing federal charges including selling drugs, possessing guns and armor as a felon, illegally selling guns
The indictments document several drug seizures, including one Feb. 9, 2012 in which authorities seized 488 grams of heroin. Youngstown DEA Agent in Charge Bob Balzanno said in another incident agents seized 1.5 kilograms of 92 percent pure heroin, an amount and purity rarely seen, even in large cities.
He said that amount of pure heroin could yield up to 10 kilograms after dealers mix the drug.
Thomas, the indictment alleges, and another Detroit man facing murder charges for his role in a November shootout near downtown Warren with three other career criminals who had ties to Detroit crime, led the ring.
Derrick Peete, 21, is facing aggravated murder charges for fatally shooting career criminal Marco Dukes, 32, and wounding felon Larry Smith, 29. The indictment alleges Peete helped Thomas obtain drugs, which they sold to a Anthony L. Ector Jr., 29, of Warren, who sold the drugs to a litany of street dealers in Warren, Detroit and Ravenna.
One of the dealers Lewis C. Powell II, 33, according to the indictment, also firearms despite being a felon.
In another case unsealed Wednesday, that was previously reported by WKBN.COM, brothers Jamie and Jovan Hancock of Dayton were charged with running a drug trafficking organization under investigation for the last two years.
Jamie Hancock was arrested March 5 on Interstate 680 with a woman and her 5-year-old child. Agents tracked Hancock and found he had more than 1,000 grams of heroin duct taped in bindles inside the trunk.
Hancock was let go by authorities. He called his mother and told her he had $200,000 stashed in her garage, according to a call intercepted by federal agents who tapped his phone.
The affidavit says they bought drugs from Columbus and sold them to dealers in Warren.
A five-person group comprised of Warren, Girard and Hermitage, Pa. dealers were charged in a separate case with 21 counts of dealing crack.
Federal authorities also charged 20 others with federal crimes in unrelated cases of drug dealing, including Antonio Tucker, 21, of Warren, who is accused of dealing prescription painkillers and illegal guns between July 6 and Jan. 2.
Prosecutors also charged two Warren men with illegally selling guns at a flea market in exchange for items, such as furniture.
Ricky and Henry Walker, 54 and 60, of Warren, were indicted on charges of conspiring to deal firearms. The indictment alleges the duo sold nine firearms in exchange for furniture on Sept. 7, 2011. One month later, they were sold 22 guns and ammunition in exchange for other property and furniture.