Alleged drug ring rooted in Cleveland area

LISBON — No new indictments from Operation Big Oak were released due to the courthouse being closed on Friday for the Veterans Day holiday. But at last count 67 people involved in bringing heroin, fentanyl and carfentanyl to Columbiana County have been charged with related crimes.

One of the organization’s leaders, Tremaine Jackson, 28, also known as “T” and “Te Te,” was already incarcerated when the secret indictments came out. Jackson is currently at the Lorain Correctional Institution, where he is serving a 30-month sentence from previous crimes in Columbiana County — three counts of drug trafficking, three counts of permitting drug abuse and one count each of possession of drugs, illegal conveyance to a detention facility and tampering with evidence.

This time Jackson is charged with two counts of trafficking in heroin, two counts of trafficking in cocaine and a charge of aggravated trafficking in drugs for allegedly selling fentanyl.

Although they are from Cleveland also, two of his brothers have served time for crimes in Columbiana County, all of which happened in 2014. Allen C. Jackson, 25, had served 24 months for trafficking in drugs and having weapons while under a disability, while Anthony L. Jackson, 30, was sentenced to seven months for trafficking in drugs and complicity to trafficking in drugs.

Tremaine Jackson’s uncle is among those in the latest round of indictments. Jermaine Jackson, 46, Garfield Heights, is charged with 17 counts, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, trafficking heroin, aggravated trafficking in drugs for allegedly selling fentanyl and carfentanyl, trafficking in marijuana and a first-degree felony trafficking in cocaine charge due to the alleged amount of cocaine sold.

Jermaine Jackson, also known as “Jay,” “JJ” and “Rome,” had not been charged for crimes in Columbiana County prior to the Big Oak indictment.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, there was a fifth member of the family, a cousin, who was also part of the drug trafficking activity in the family. DeCarlo Jackson was reportedly killed attempting to rob a Taco Bell in Cleveland in early September. DeCarlo Jackson reportedly walked into the restaurant with another man, both wearing masks and armed, pointed guns at the employees and ordered them to the ground, the account in the Plain Dealer states. Three employees came from the back of the store, pulled their own guns and fired several shots. DeCarlo Jackson was reportedly struck by six bullets and died there.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Tremaine Jackson is facing felony charges in Cleveland as well, including one for allegedly shooting two bail bondsmen in November of 2017.

The Jackson family would be considered dangerous by any standards and while they were not believed to have been involved in guns here, they are believed to have been involved in the recent increases in at least non-fatal overdoses from opioids.

County Prosecutor Robert Herron said Friday the men are part of a street gang, the second one known to have started operating in recent years in Columbiana County. At one point it was the Heartless Felons and drugs coming in a pipeline from Lorain, Herron said. But the Jacksons are part of a different group, one Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office identified as the Down the Way street gang.

While Herron said it is not known what originally interested these gang members in specifically targeting Columbiana County or what connections they had here to start, the reasons for operating here are clear. There were a lot of people here who wanted access to drugs, especially opioids, and the drug dealers were able to sell it for a higher price than what they could in Cleveland, where there was more competition, Herron said.

Additionally, Herron said dealing drugs in Columbiana County was a lot safer than in Cuyahoga County with less gun play involved.

The combination led to 1.3 million doses of opioids, including 1 million potentially fatal doses of carfentanyl making their way to this county and more than 100 people being included in a 756-count indictment for their involvement in the drugs trade, in many cases helping to carry, deliver and distribute these drugs.

It took countless hours by the local Columbiana County Drug Task Force and assistance from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Heroin Unit to gather the information needed to disrupt the gang’s trafficking activities in Columbiana County. The round up of those involved, which began in earnest on Tuesday, continues with more than 30 warrants remaining to be served at last count.

More names will be released as they are served and additional arraignments and court hearings will be held in the coming weeks and months.