Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler announced that a federal grand jury returned an 18-count, superseding indictment charging 13 individuals as part of a drug trafficking conspiracy that sought to distribute illegal drugs in the Akron area.
According to a press release by the Northern District of Ohio U.S. Attorney’s Office, law enforcement officials seized approximately 16.6 kilograms of fentanyl, 9.9 kilograms of methamphetamine, one kilogram of valeryl fentanyl, 400 grams of cocaine, one semiautomatic rifle, and four semiautomatic pistols in total during the execution of the search warrants. Law enforcement officials arrested nine members of the conspiracy Thursday morning after the superseding indictment was unsealed in federal court. Three members of the conspiracy were arrested in September 2021 and one member was arrested in a separate case.
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “just two to three milligrams of fentanyl can kill a person.” The 16.6 kilograms of fentanyl seized by law enforcement is enough to kill the entire 1.8 million population of the Columbus Metro Area by nearly three times.
Named in the indictment are Damien Roger Marcel Stafford, 41, of Akron, Ohio; Chezerae D. Floyd, 44, of Akron, Ohio; Lucian D. Blackwell, 41, of Akron, Ohio; Craig L. Johnstone, 49, of Akron, Ohio; Rausheeda L. Hyshaw, 41, of Akron, Ohio; Antwain D. Stewart, 41, of Akron, Ohio; Ricky Lynn Vaughn, 60, of Akron, Ohio; Clifford E. Stafford, 44, of Akron, Ohio; Dorshaun R. Tucker, 41, of Akron, Ohio; Alexander Prieto, 41, of Cleveland, Ohio; Marian Ripley, 21, of Akron, Ohio; Travis Blankenship, 31, of Charleston, West Virginia; and Jessica McClanahan, 31, of Charleston, West Virginia.
Each defendant is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, methamphetamine, valeryl fentanyl, and cocaine, according to the press release. In addition, various members of the conspiracy are also charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, maintaining a drug premises and using a communication facility to facilitate a drug offense.
As part of the conspiracy, the indictment alleges that the defendants used residences in Akron as locations to store and distribute their controlled substances. In addition, conspiracy members are accused of using cellphones to communicate and drug “testers” to evaluate the strength and quality of a controlled substance intended for sale, the press release notes.
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network.