Sprawling Drug Bust Takes Down Dozens in Richland County Heroin Rings


[image-1]The FBI and DEA joined local law enforcement agencies today in announcing a sweeping drug bust against two heroin trafficking rings in Richland County (Mansfield). In the early hours of Oct. 25, hundreds of officers carried out a series of arrests, and that work is still happening. Of the 39 federal indictments, 21 people were arrested as of Wednesday morning.

Read the full criminal complaint below.

"Literally, [agencies] throughout the state of Ohio came together this morning," an FBI agent said. Concurrent arrests took place in Georgia, Kentucky and Illinois today.

The 39 indictments came with 15 search warrants and an unconfirmed number of weapons seized in multiple locations. The FBI reported that this was "long-term investigation" and a "wire case." Arrests are presently ongoing.

"What we're asking is anyone with information on their location to provide that to us [at] 866-4-WANTED," Andrew Deserto of the U.S. Marshals Service said.

According to the criminal indictment, the investigation began in the summer of 2016 with controlled drug purchases in Mansfield. Two primary dealers in the area — Kevin Burton and Lennon Hayes — sourced heroin from Columbus and from out of state. The controlled buys occurred throughout the rest of 2016 and well into this year, exposing Burton and Hayes' trafficking structure.

"They're kind of opportunists," an FBI agent said. "They do specialize in different kind of drugs, but I think they'll sell whatever makes them a profit." Burton and Hayes' rings involved a network of couriers, wives, girlfriends and others, all of whom used multiple residences in the Mansfield area to house their products and supplies.

"We're looking at this from the perspective of trying to cut off the availability of drugs in our community," Mansfield Police Chief Ken Coontz said today.

Multiple law enforcement personnel reported that additional local charges, related to these rings, are expected in the near future.

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