Officials said the drug ring sold about 2.2 pounds of cocaine worth $100,000 each week.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A Mahoning County grand jury has indicted seven men who police say were part of a network that sold about 330 pounds of cocaine in the Mahoning Valley over the past decade.
The seven men served as suppliers to others who sold at bars in the city's suburbs and on the West Side, said David Allen, commander of the Mahoning Valley Drug Task Force.
Suspected of being ringleader of the group is Shawn Willis, 30, of South Main Street in Poland. Investigators said he supplied drugs to Robert Treharn, 31, of Folsom Street in Champion and John Orosz, 32, of Patricia Avenue in Youngstown.
Those men partnered with Jonathan Brown, 34, of North Hartford Avenue in Youngstown, police said during a press conference Thursday.
Others charged: Treharn supplied Donald Lewis, also known as "Fat Man," 26, of Market Street in Youngstown, Dean Valley, 27, also of Market Street, and Mark DiGiacomo, 38, of New Road in Austintown. DiGiacomo was a partner of Brown's, police said.
The activities date to February 2000, police said.
If convicted, each man faces three to 10 years in prison on a count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity by trafficking cocaine. Each also faces additional charges of selling cocaine.
The grand jury cited 13 alleged acts of drug sales over 16 months, and testimony showed that the ring has existed since 1990, according to the indictment.
In the suburbs: Allen said the infiltration of the drugs into the suburbs -- and the suburban addresses of most of the defendants -- shows that drug trafficking is "not just an inner-city problem; it's a Valley problem."
The network sometimes sold about one kilogram -- 2.2 pounds -- of cocaine each week, broken into 1/4- and 1/2-gram bags, achieving a total street value of $100,000. Task force officers estimate that 150 kilograms -- about 330 pounds -- of the drug were trafficked into the Valley since the ring was established.
Allen said $7,500 to $10,000 has been invested into a task force investigation that began in January 1999, after bar owners complained of drugs being dealt to their customers in parking lots and restrooms.
Police made several small undercover purchases from street-level dealers while finding links to the seven defendants who they believe were the mid- to upper-level dealers.
During the arrests, nine ounces of cocaine were recovered. Task force agents said that amount would cost a dealer about $8,000 but could be broken down and sold for $25,000 to $30,000 on the street.
Also recovered were two 9mm handguns, one with a sight attached.
Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains said prosecutors have worked with task force officers since the investigation began.
The suspects were indicted in secret Aug. 30. Six were arrested during the past week and all have pleaded innocent in county common pleas court. Treharn is expected to turn himself in next week.
Willis has posted a $100,000 cash or surety bond. Orosz, Valley, Lewis, Brown and DiGiacomo are all in the county jail in lieu of $100,000 cash or surety bonds.
Allen said he expects arrests of lower-end drug dealers to follow. Other possible co-conspirators remain suspects.