Largest Drug Case in Recent History Out of Prosecutor’s Office: 79 Indicted, Over $1M in Fentanyl, $500K in Cash Seized During Multi-Agency Task Force Investigation Breaking Up Drug Trafficking Organization
Posted on 2/11/2022
In March 2021, the Central Ohio HIDTA Task Force, an Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC) task force, began a lengthy drug trafficking investigation within the central Ohio area. This was an investigation of an incredibly complex drug trafficking organization which was believed to be receiving large quantities of narcotics, including cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl, from several different sources. The investigating authorities became aware early on that the organization was receiving parcels from both Puerto Rico and Mexico.
In late May of 2021, detectives from the OOCIC Central Ohio HIDTA Drug Task Force began working with the Office of Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney G. Gary Tyack on the final parts of the investigation, which ultimately led to the below indictments. This investigation included numerous local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, and was a success due to the commitment and dedication of all involved individuals.
In total, 12 kilos of fentanyl (over $1M in street value), 48 kilos of cocaine (over $4.5M in street value), 3.5 kilos of methamphetamine (over $300K in street value), and more than $500K in cash were seized throughout the process. In addition to the drug ring operation, one of the defendants, Michael Nichols, has also been indicted for aggravated murder.
“These indictments and seizures highlight the effectiveness of our Organized Crime Investigations Commission Task Forces, which combine federal, state, and local assets to thwart the supply of narcotics across Ohio,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said. “Special thanks to Sgt. Jim Haley with the HIDTA Task Force for his leadership throughout this investigation.”
“This multi-agency effort was only possible through the hard work of the law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and investigative professionals who saw this investigation through to the end. They all did incredible work to bring this organization down,” said Prosecutor Tyack. “Their work has saved countless lives, and will surely prevent future loss of life to the disease that is addiction,” he finished.
All of these cases have been assigned to Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Julie Lynch, with the arraignment and discovery process beginning early this year.
The following agencies were involved in putting the case together and ensuring successful indictments: The Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, OOCIC (Ohio AG), Columbus Division of Police, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (Ohio AG), H.S.I., Gahanna Police Department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Madison County Sheriff’s Department, Columbus DEA, Puerto Rico DEA, United States Postal Service, Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force, and Northwest Ohio Bulk Smuggling Task Force.
As a result of the investigation completed, below is a list of what was seized, search warrants executed, and persons indicted:
Fentanyl – 12 kilos; Over $1M in street value
Cocaine – 48 kilos; Over $4.5M in street value
Methamphetamine – 3.5 kilos; Over $300K in street value
Crack Cocaine – 59 grams
Misc. Pills – 120 UD
Marijuana - 1,029 grams
Total Search Warrants Executed:
Residential – 27
Vehicles – 14
Handguns – 37
Assault Style Rifle – 4
Shot Guns – 6
Rifle - 2
377 – Total Counts
The indictments include to the following charges:
- Trafficking in Drugs – Felony 1
- Trafficking in Heroin – Felony 2
- Trafficking in Cocaine – Felony 1
- Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity – Felony 1
- Trafficking in Fentanyl-Related Compound – Felony 1
- Possession of Fentanyl-Related Compound – Felony 1
- Illegal Manufacture of Drugs – Felony 2
- Trafficking in Heroin, Cocaine, and Fentanyl with specification