Nearly $6M in drugs seized and 79 traffickers indicted in historic Franklin County bust – The Columbus Dispatch

The Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office announced late Friday afternoon the indictments of 79 people and the seizure of nearly $6 million in drugs in what they’re calling the county’s largest drug bust in recent history.
The investigation, begun almost a year ago, involved several Ohio agencies, including the Ohio High Intensity Drug Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, and the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC) task force, and focused initially within Greater Columbus.
In a prepared release, authorities described an “incredibly complex drug trafficking organization which was believed to be receiving large quantities of narcotic — including cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl — from several different sources. Many of the shipments arrived in Ohio from Puerto Rico and Mexico.
In late May 2021, detectives from the task force began final work on the case, which Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney G. Gary Tyack’s office presented to a grand jury for indictments.
Numerous local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies participated.
Among the illegal drugs confiscated were: 12 kilos of fentanyl (more than $1 million in estimated street value), 48 kilos of cocaine (more than $4.5 million in estimated street value), 3.5 kilos of methamphetamine (about $300,000 estimated street value), and more than $500,000 in cash.
In addition to dozens of indictments for alleged drug traficking, one of the defendants — Michael A. Nichols Jr., 33, of Columbus’ North East Side — was indicted for aggravated murder, two counts of murder, convicted felon illegally in possession of a weapon, plus repeat violent offender specifications, court records state. 
Nichols has pleaded not guilty to all charges, which were filed in connection with the July 20 shooting of 30-year-old Billy Sanders around 7:30 p.m. near the intersection of Columbian and Sullivant avenues on the Hilltop. Sanders died early the next day, July 21, at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center.
“These indictments and seizures highlight the effectiveness of our Organized Crime Investigations Commission Task Forces, which combine federal, state, and local assets to thwart the supply of narcotics across Ohio,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a written statement.
“This multi-agency effort was only possible through the hard work of the law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and investigative professionals who saw this investigation through to the end. They all did incredible work to bring this organization down,” said Prosecutor Tyack in a written statement.. “Their work has saved countless lives, and will surely prevent future loss of life to the disease that is addiction.”
All of these cases have been assigned to Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Julie Lynch, with the arraignment and discovery process beginning early this year.
Law enforcement agencies involved in the case include Columbus police, Gahanna police, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations,  Homeland Security Investigations, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Madison County Sheriff’s Office, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s Columbus and Puerto Rico offices, U.S. Postal Service inspectors, Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force, and Northwest Ohio Bulk Smuggling Task Force.
dnarciso@dispatch.com
@DeanNarciso

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