CIRCLEVILLE — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Pickaway County Prosecutor Judy Wolford, Circleville Police Chief Shawn Baer, Pickaway County Sheriff Robert Radcliff, and Circleville Mayor Don McIlroy announced June 27 that the 11 individuals identified last year as the leaders of a Circleville-area drug trafficking organization have all been sentenced to prison.
The final defendant in the engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity case was sentenced this month.
A total of 72 individuals were indicted on drug charges in March 2015 following an investigation by the Attorney General’s Heroin Unit, Circleville Police Department, and Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office. Of those, 11 were identified by investigators as the managers of the drug trafficking organization.
The investigation found that the 11 individuals operated the drug trafficking ring by transporting heroin and cocaine from Columbus and distributing it in Circleville from August 2010 to December 2014. Investigators estimated that those supervising the group made approximately $40,000 per month in drug sales.
The ringleader of the organization, Reashawn Dunning, 31, of Westerville, pleaded guilty to charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and trafficking in cocaine with a major drug offender specification. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Seven of the other suspects also received sentences of 11 years in prison, one received eight years in prison, and two received four years in prison.
A number of the suspects also received additional suspended sentences that could be imposed if another infraction occurs following their release from custody.
A majority of the other 61 defendants, many of whom were drug users rather than traffickers, received lighter sentences and assistance in an effort to help them recover from addiction.
“Those selling opiates in this state should take notice of this case, because it shows that law enforcement will dismantle drug trafficking organizations like this one-by-one, and the punishment will be severe,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Heroin is killing far too many people in Ohio, and those who furnish this deadly drug to those suffering from addiction will be held accountable.”
“I am thankful that the Attorney General’s Office was able to assist our community with this investigation and prosecution of these cases,” said Prosecutor Wolford. “My office, the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office, and the Circleville Police Department were happy to put the main perpetrators behind bars and to try to find help for the users.”
“The dedication of everyone involved in this investigation made me proud to be a law enforcement officer, and combined with the support we received from the community, we sent a loud and firm message that heroin is not welcome here,” said Chief Baer. “Unfortunately, there are people who choose to deal heroin and prey on the addictions of their victims. Our community has shown great support in our efforts to stop heroin from coming here.”
“This collaboration between agencies has had a major impact on the drug trade in our area. The heroin epidemic is best fought with a united effort between the citizens and local and state law enforcement and government authorities,” said Sheriff Radcliff. “My office will continue to work diligently with our local partners in fighting this crisis in our community.”
The 11 main suspects were prosecuted by attorneys with the Pickaway County Prosecutor’s Office, with assistance from Attorney General DeWine’s Special Prosecutions Section. They were sentenced by Pickaway County Common Pleas Judge P. Randall Knece.
Authorities with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Columbus Police Department, Ohio Highway Patrol, and Drug Enforcement Administration assisted with the investigation.
Attorney General DeWine created the Heroin Unit in 2013 after information gathered by the Attorney General’s Office revealed an increasing rate of heroin overdose deaths across the state. The unit is made up of authorities from the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), Special Prosecutions Section, and Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission. The unit also includes education and outreach specialists from the Attorney General’s Office.