For Immediate Release
Seventeen Firearms and More Than a Half-Million Dollars Seized as 13 People Indicted for Trafficking Hundreds of Pounds of Cocaine
Thirteen people, most from Stark County, were charged in an 80-count federal indictment for bringing hundreds of pounds of cocaine into Northern Ohio and selling it in Massillon, Canton and throughout the region, as well as additional firearms and drug charges, law enforcement officials said.
Law enforcement agents seized 17 firearms, nearly 1,500 rounds of ammunition, approximately $592,579 in cash, more than 13 kilograms of cocaine, more than 22 kilograms of marijuana as well as heroin and crystal methamphetamine as part of the investigation.
Named in the indictment are: Apolinar Meraz-Magana, 55, of Massillon; Ignacio Cuevas-Gutierrez, 33, of Massillon; Jose Luis Martinez-Maldonado, 26, of Canton; Manuel Sarmiento Ibarra, 40, of Canton; Jonathan Quezada, 22, of Sterling; Juan Ramon Mora-Hurtado, 29, of Massillon; Karla Hernandez-Salazar, 30, of Massillon; Juan Benito Caro-Silva, 23, of Massillon; Phillip Blough, 28, of Smithville; Stamontae Sanders, 25, of Canton; Mark Momie, 51, of Canton; Celestino Penalosa, 30, of Orrville, and Dave McClellan. 43, of Massillon.
Salazar, Silva, Sanders, Maldonado, Quezada, Penalosa, Momie, McClellan and Blough conspired to possesses approximately 550 pounds of cocaine from October through November 2017. Salazar and Silva obtained the cocaine and distributed it to Sanders, Maldonado, Quezada, Penalosa, Momie, McClellan and Blough, who in turn sold the cocaine to customers throughout Ohio, according to the indictment.
Blough was charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Salazar, Silva and Quezada were also charged with being aliens in possession of firearms and/or ammunition.
Magana, Gutierrez, Maldonado, Quezada, Hurtado and Ibarra conspired to possess more than 110 pounds of cocaine from April through September 2017. Magana and Gutierrez obtained the cocaine from suppliers and in turn distributed it to Maldonado, Ibarra, Quezada and Hurtado, who sold it to various customers throughout Ohio, according to the indictment.
Magana was also charged with being an alien in possession of firearms and ammunition, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute heroin, and other violations.
“One only needs to look at the firearms, cash and amount of drugs associated with this crew to understand the threat they pose to our community,” said U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman. “Getting these defendants off the streets will save lives.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony said: “This group of individuals brought poison and danger to our neighborhoods. This is yet another example of law enforcement’s collaborative efforts to disrupt and rid violent drug dealing groups from our streets.”
“These arrests are the next phase of a complex investigation that spans multiple agencies and jurisdictions,” stated Trevor Velinor, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division. “The ultimate goal is to make Canton and the surrounding communities safer for everyone, and ATF will continue to work with our partners to that end.”
“The indictment of thirteen people is significant and an indication that cocaine is still a threat to Northern Ohio,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy Plancon. “Dismantling the activities of a large-scale, gun toting, cocaine organization is a victory for the community and was achieved by significant cooperative efforts of numerous local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.”>
Medway Director Don Hall said: “This was just another outstanding example of law enforcement agencies at all levels collaborating and being able to dismantle a significant drug trafficking organization that had a very strong influence in not only Stark and Wayne Counties but in Northeast Ohio. In one house alone in Wayne County when you seize eight pounds of crystal meth, 22 pounds of cocaine, $100,000 cash and weapons, that puts a dent in what gets distributed down the line to our local cities and villages in Wayne County.”
“It is critical for law enforcement to maintain the local/federal partnership that continues to be very effective in the arrest and prosecution of those that cause so much destruction to our community,” Canton Police Chief Bruce Lawver said.
If convicted, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the FBI, ATF, DEA, Medway Drug Task Force, Canton Police Department, Jackson Township Police Department, Louisville Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Katz.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.