Big Oak indictments continue

Number of people charged now up to 73

LISBON — Operation Big Oak, the joint effort between the state and local law enforcement to disrupt the drug network that operated between Cleveland and Columbiana County, has resulted in six more people being charged.

The six secret indictments served since Friday bring to 73 the number of people charged to date since Operation Big Oak was first announced on Nov. 7 at a press conference held in East Liverpool by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, which was the result of a three-year investigation between his office, the county Drug Task Force, county prosecutor’s office and local police.

The newest indictees are:

–Shawn Adams, 47, charged with selling heroin.

–Kayla M. Tullis, 24, charged with selling heroin.

–Diane Callehan, 24, charged with one count of aggravated trafficking in heroin and four counts of selling heroin.

–Tracey Jackson, 49, charged with allowing a 2011 Audi to be used for drug activity.

–Martika S. Lee, 26, charged with allowing a 2008 Audi to be used for drug activity.

–Mykol Foster, 19, charged with selling fentanyl and cocaine.

Since 2014, Cleveland drug dealers are believed to have brought in nearly 1.4 million doses of potentially lethal opioids into Columbiana County. According a story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a Cleveland street gang known as Down the Way found the county to be a “fertile ground for peddling drugs smuggled in from Mexico.”

Between 2014 and this year, the Cleveland drug traffickers shipped an estimated one million doses of carfentanil and 350,000 doses of fentanyl to Columbiana County. Carfentanil is 50 times more potent than fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than heroin, which was also sold.

Down My Way leaders organized shipments destined for Columbiana County and even helped arrange street-level deals, the Plain Dealer reporter. County Prosecutor Robert Herron told the Morning Journal the dealers found out they could sell the drugs for a higher price than in Cleveland because there was less competition, making it a much more lucrative proposition.

The principal players operating the drug ring were five members of the same Cleveland family, four of whom have been charged in connection with Operation Big Oak. The fifth relative, who would have been indicted, was killed while robbing a Taco Bell in Cleveland two months ago.

The four defendants from Cleveland allegedly sold the drugs to 51 people identified as mid-level drug traffickers for resale in the county, according to DeWine’s office.

Approximately 102 people from Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Mahoning and Tuscarawas counties were indicted, with the combined charges totaling 756.