Authorities said nearly 80 suspects facing a variety of state and federal charges, mostly revolving around the drug trade in Trumbull County, have been apprehended by federal agents and U.S. Marshals, though the kingpin of the Detroit-to-Warren drug pipeline remains at large and the leader of a Dayton-based ring that sold drugs in Warren also remain free.
The leaders of the two drug rings that were part of a 97-person sweep of alleged drug traffickers and other offenders unsealed on Wednesday remain at-large, officials said. Jamie Hancock, 27, of Dayton, and Valentino Thomas, 41, of Detroit and Warren, who authorities said led the Detroit-to-Warren drug pipeline that city officials said caused a spike in drugs and violent crime in Warren, have evaded authorities so far.
One drug ring leader, Marcus Hemmingway, 36, of Warren was been apprehended on Wednesday, said a spokesman with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Dave Coulson, the spokesman, said anyone else with any rank within the three drug ring conspiracies have been apprehended during the three-day warrant sweep through Detroit, Warren and western Pennsylvania.
Coulson said 78 of the 97 charged have been apprehended and that U.S. Marshals are still in the area tracking at-large suspects.
Thomas, the alleged leader of the Detroit-Warren pipeline, is facing three counts of distributing 58 grams of heroin to undercover agents in Warren between November and January.
The indictment says Thomas talked with an undercover agent about purchasing heroin and eventually bought 20 ounces of heroin from a street dealer. Three days later, the agent bought 28 ounces of the drug directly from Thomas.
The indictment alleges Thomas and Derrick Peete, 23, of Detroit, obtained drugs in Detroit and sold them to Anthony L. Ector, 29, of Warren, to distribute to 18 street dealers, including Thomas’ son Valentino Thomas Jr., who sold the drugs in various locations including the Hair Depot, Big Lots, Walmart, across from Warren G. Harding High School and the Family Dollar.
Valentino Thomas Jr., 22, however, was arrested in Warren, Coulson said.
Peete, Thomas Sr., and many of the street dealers, have violent criminal pasts with ties to murder and other violent crimes. Peete is currently facing aggravated murder charges for a November shootout in downtown Warren that left career criminal Marco Dukes, 32, dead and felon Larry Smith wounded.
Echo is facing 21 counts of distributing heroin and Peete is facing two counts of heroin dealing. Echo was apprehended Wednesday.
Thomas, whose criminal records extends to 1992 and includes aggravated arson, aggravated robbery, drug trafficking and felonious assault, was interviewed by police following the fatal shooting of Thomas’ brother, Stanley Thomas on Oct. 16, 2011 at Clancy’s Bar.
Valentino Thomas, and his sister, Yolanda Holmes, who died in a fatal fire in March 2012, met with city officials three days later to try and keep Clancy’s opened. It was eventually shuttered.
Investigators said after that shooting they suspected Detroit gangs were involved in the shooting.
Authorities are still searching for Hancock, but arrested his brother Jovan Hancock, 30, both of Datyon, who authorities allege bought drugs from a Columbus supplier and distributed them to six street dealers in Dayton and Warren who are now facing charges.
Cornelius Butler III, 32, of Warren Township, who is facing 10 counts of distributing heroin, was apprehended.
Butler has bought four homes in Warren and Warren Township since Nov. 28, 2011 and owns at least seven homes in both areas. Auditors records show the city of Warren sold Butler property at 1272 Main St. S.W. in 2007, eight years after Butler was first convicted with a felony, WKBN.COM previously reported in March when Butler was arrested by federal agents.
Authorities investigated the Hancock organization for two years, according to court records. The trio, prosecutors say, bought kilograms of heroin and sold them to street dealers.
Butler, the indictment says, was caught Jan. 30 with three accused drug dealers and a fourth man in Portage County. All five men had a combined $7,728.
Hancock was eventually apprehended by federal agents using a Youngstown Police car on March 5 after getting picked up at the Greyhound Bus station. Officers found one kilogram of heroin inside the trunk. The next day, April Polk, 29, of Columbus, who authorities allege sold drugs and assisted the group, was caught leaving Warren with nearly $50,000.
Hemmingway, the leader of a local drug selling ring, was apprehended Wednesday. He is facing five counts of distributing crack and being a felon with a gun. Hemmingway’s criminal history extends to 1994 and has been charged twice with aggravated burglary in 2006 and 2008, according to a search of county records.
ATF and local agents investigated the drug ring from August 2012 through Jan. 9, the indictment says. One of the others involved in the ring, Darnell Defrance, 26, of Warren, showed an undercover agent a list of his suppliers and how much he has to pay each source during a Nov. 2 meeting, the indictment says. Defrance then sold the agent 35 grams of crack.
During another deal on Dec. 14 in which the agent bought 28 grams of crack, Defrance told the agent he made between $70,000 and $80,000 selling drugs that month.