Suspects named in huge Columbiana Co. drug case face judge

Authorities claim the case ties opioid and cocaine sales and use in Columbiana County with drug dealers in the Cleveland area

Operation Big Oak drug bust, Columbiana County, arraignment


LISBON, Ohio (WKBN) – As police continue looking for suspects named in a huge drug indictment in Columbiana County, dozens more are all free on bond Wednesday night.

A day after authorities announced the largest drug case ever in the county, about 40 suspects made their first appearances in front of a judge. One by one, they walked up to a podium in Common Pleas Court Wednesday afternoon.

They all got caught up in a 750-count, 250-page indictment authorities claim tied opioid and cocaine sales and use in Columbiana County with drug dealers in the Cleveland area.

Lt. Brian McLaughlin said it’s safe to say the county hasn’t ever seen a case of this magnitude.

“The affected eastern part of the county, we’ve seen this gang operate not only here in East Liverpool but Wellsville, Lisbon, Rogers, Negley, East Palestine, and Columbiana.”

Investigators said Tuesday they started working this case four years ago, utilizing undercover drug buys as well as wiretaps.

“Which are manpower-intensive and required constant monitoring, virtually 24/7, for an extended period of time,” Prosecutor Bob Herron said.

Most of those who appeared in court are facing multiple trafficking and possession charges.

Among them, Thomas Pease, who told the judge he will ultimately be cleared.

“Have to talk to the attorney first and stuff like that but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to exonerate my charges on me,” Pease said.

Also charged is 74-year-old Thomas Fannin — an attorney from East Liverpool who’s charged in the indictment with cocaine trafficking. Appearing in a suit and tie, he asked for more time to hire his own lawyer.

“Your Honor, I haven’t had a chance to consult with counsel yet,” Fannin said.

While all of those appearing in person were released on bond, authorities said they are still looking for dozens more who were named in the indictment.

.

WKBN 27 First News provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. No links will be permitted. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s