LIMA — Two men were in custody Monday facing multiple felony drug charges after their arrests in what police said is one of the largest heroin busts in the history of Allen County.
Police seized 4.4 pounds of heroin earlier this month with an estimated street value of $330,000, Sheriff Sam Crish said.
“That’s a lot of heroin we took in. That’s huge for this community to take that much heroin out of our community and any other community it would go from here. It’s certainly a big dent, in my eyes, taking that much heroin off our streets,” Crish said.
Marvin Thomas, 45, and Anthony Duvernay, 39, both of Lima, were charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, trafficking in heroin, possession of heroin and illegal manufacture of drugs. Several of the charges carry major drug offender and forfeiture specifications. Thomas also was charged with having a weapon under a court sanction.
“Those who choose to bring heroin into Ohio’s communities are taking a great risk because investigators on task forces like the Lima Allen County Interdiction Task Force are watching,” said Ohio Attorney General DeWine in a release. “Investigators across the state are working hard to confiscate heroin, keep it away from those suffering from addiction, and hold traffickers accountable for their crimes.”
Crish and Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin said there is an unknown value to the bust that will never be completely known.
“This has saved a lot of lives, whether it’s from overdoses or turf wars,” Crish said.
“It would have very likely resulted in the deaths of many people,” Martin said.
Agents with the Allen County Interdiction Task Force, which the sheriff and Lima Police Department are members, found the drugs in several vehicles. The men were bringing the drugs in from out of state, officials said.
Allen County Prosecutor Juergen Waldick said heroin is a large and deadly problem. People buying it have no idea what they are getting.
“It’s not like it’s dispensed at a pharmacy and you know the purity and strength. If you’re wrong you’re dead,” Waldick said.
Waldick was in court Monday where a man pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for giving heroin to a woman whose life ended in an overdose. He said he can recall four recent heroin deaths.
The usage of the drug is on the rise, officials said.
Heroin is cheap, about $10 a hit, Crish said. It’s snorted, smoked and injected. Injected is the way users end up going and stay with since it is the fast way to a high.
Many people start using heroin after they run out of painkillers, often prescribed by a doctor after a surgery or for some other condition. When they can’t get painkillers anymore, they turn to heroin, Waldick said.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission also was involved as part of a bigger effort to stop the flow of heroin and other drugs transported on Interstate 75, which cuts through Lima.
“Those who choose to bring heroin into Ohio’s communities are taking a great risk,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a written statement about the bust. DeWine said the bust should serve as a warning to heroin dealers that police are out there looking for them.
Waldick said heroin has caused an increase in theft offenses and home invasions. He said people will do anything to get heroin once they are hooked.
The matter remained under investigation Monday and authorities said they expect to arrest more people.
Established in 1986, the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission assists local law enforcement agencies in combating organized crime and corrupt activities. The commission is comprised of members of the law enforcement community and is chaired by the Ohio Attorney General. In 2014, authorities working in OOCIC task forces across the state seized more than $23 million worth of drugs and more than $5 million in U.S. currency.
Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.