By Joe Gorman
A federal grand jury indicted 17 people Tuesday on charges they distributed drugs in Youngstown and two other cities, kept buildings to sell the items and conspired over the phone to make sales.
According to the indictments, a man who already is in federal custody in another drug case, Terrance Tarver, 39, of Akron, got cocaine and marijuana from people in Columbus to be distributed in Columbus, Akron and Youngstown and got heroin from Akron to be distributed in Akron and Youngstown to those who were indicted Tuesday.
Ten of those indicted are from Youngstown, one is from Farrell, Pa., and another is from Sharon, Pa.
The indictment says the ring was distributing drugs from September 2011 to March 2012.
Tarver was indicted in a separate case with nine other people in 2012 for being part of another drug ring, bringing in drugs from out of town as well. He has entered guilty pleas in that case and is awaiting sentencing.
Some of the phone calls and texts the members of the ring made to one another also are described in the indictment, which detail arrangements to buy and sell drugs as well as family loyalties and troubles other drug suppliers are experiencing. At least two people tell Tarver they want to be “on the team,” according to the indictment.
They refer to money as “paperwork” and use several different code names for drugs. At one point, Tarver is recorded with another defendant who reports problems with their suppliers “whining and crying” about the quality of the drugs they were supposed to pick up to sell.
At one point during December of 2011 one of those indicted, Phillip Whitman, says he wants to make sure he stayed out of trouble because it was close to Christmas.
Benjamin J. Phillips. 36, of Cheraw, S.C., also faces a count of allowing an East Side home on Cassius Avenue to be used to sell cocaine. Abdul W. Muhammad, 41, of Youngstown, faces the same charge for using a home on Elm Street on the North Side, and Brandon M. Williams, 20, and Patrick D. McWhorter, 21, face the same charge for using a house on Kenneth Street on the East Side.
Prosecutors also are looking to seize $28,140 in cash that was taken May 16, 2012, from Whitman.
The indictment lists 57 total calls or texts by members of the ring discussing drug business.
The case was investigated by the FBI, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force. Lt. Jeff Solic of Austintown police, head of the task force, said in a news release the key to the case was how the agencies were able to work together.
“These types of cases and arrests are only possible because of the tremendous cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement,” Solic said.
When contacted by a reporter, Solic said he wanted to defer any more comment to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio because officers were still looking to round up the people indicted and also because the case is theirs.
Tarver was indicted in a separate case in March 2012. He was called a “significant” supplier of heroin and cocaine to the Youngstown and western Pennsylvania areas, and he got his drugs from Columbus in those cases as well.