Ohio officials take down 'drug dynasty'
The Akron Beacon Journal
SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio — Summit County sheriff's officials boasted Wednesday of taking down what they called a "drug dynasty" with the arrests of more than a dozen people in Ohio, Indiana and Texas.
Sheriff Drew Alexander said the legacy of the "Thomas family" drug organization in Akron dates back more than 20 years and the family was responsible for the distribution of cocaine in the region.
The head of the purported drug enterprise, Ervin "Cat Daddy" Thomas, 44, was arrested Wednesday in Columbus; his half-brother and the alleged No. 2 man in the operation, 39-year-old Eddie "Time" Grant, was arrested in Akron.
Thomas and Grant, along with at least six family members, are accused of bringing hundreds of pounds of cocaine into Summit and Stark counties, officials said.
"This is a huge case for us," Alexander said.
The arrests, he said, followed more than a year of work by the Summit County Drug Unit, the FBI, the
federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the Akron Police Street Narcotics Unit.
Authorities charge that the family brought in 10 kilograms of cocaine a month — worth about $300,000 — through a pipeline that flowed from Mexico and ran through El Paso, Texas; Indianapolis; Chicago; Cincinnati; Columbus; and Akron.
The investigation, dubbed "Alabama Slammer" because of the Thomas family's roots in that Southern state, began in May 2006. It picked up speed in the last four months when investigators got the go-ahead to use federal wiretaps, investigators said.
Information collected from those wiretaps allowed law enforcement to finally "pierce" the core of what Alexander called "a tightknit" Thomas organization.
Sheriff's Capt. Hylton Baker said when Thomas family members were arrested in the past they refused to cooperate with authorities.
"They just took what they had coming," he said.
Baker said because so many of the family's members are charged this time, that may change.
Also arrested Wednesday were — Terrence Thomas, 39, Carolyn Thomas-Reliford, 41, Dazzle Joe Young, 63, Leandre Lewis, 33, all of Akron, and Mark Jones, 43, of Canton.
Police have arrest warrants and are searching for 48-year-old Leroy Grant of Barberton and 33-year-old Ernest Ruffin of Akron.
Authorities also made arrests in Indiana and Texas.
Those arrested face federal charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess cocaine and other federal offenses.
Alexander said more than 30 kilograms of cocaine were seized, along with small amounts of heroin and more than $1.5 million in cash.
Copyright 2007 Akron Beacon Journal
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