Prosecutor: Hilltop drug trafficking ring headquarters shutdown

Local News
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The city of Columbus secured an emergency court order to vacate and shut down a Hilltop property that served for years as the headquarters of a ruthless drug trafficking ring, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein announced Thursday.

The premises were used for the “commission, staging, and planning of felonious activity,” including supplying large amounts of heroin and cocaine to various drug houses located throughout the city’s west side, according to court documents.

Klein’s office filed a request for an ex parte temporary restraining order in the Franklin County Environmental Court to board up 102 Midland Ave., which is located near two elementary schools and the J. Ashburn Youth Center.  

In a surprise raid Thursday, the Columbus Division of Police’s Investigative/Tactical Unit enforced the judge’s order, evacuating the premises and confiscating illicit contraband.

“This was a dangerous drug operation that was infesting the west side with crack cocaine, heroin, and other heavy narcotics,” said Klein said.

“We’re thankful and grateful that the brave members of the Columbus police were able to successfully and safely enforce the board-up order and shut this place down without incident today.”

Columbus police began investigating illegal activity associated with 102 Midland Ave in 2017, according to the city’s complaint.

Detectives conducting surveillance gathered evidence that the premises were being used as a “drug distribution center” and a hub to manage approximately five Hilltop area “trap houses” at any given time, officials said.  

The standard practice of the drug operation consisted of supplying each drug location with a “pack” of narcotics that included precisely 15 grams of crack cocaine and 15 grams of heroin.  

Once the pack was sold, another would be provided.  

Based on this system, authorities estimated that daily sales equaled up to $7,200 per day at these trap houses.

Known felons associated with the operation included individuals and gang members previously convicted on criminal charges ranging from attempted murder, aggravated burglary, and felonious assault to drug trafficking, illegally carrying a concealed weapon, and domestic violence.

Last month, on Jan. 30th, officers responded to the premises after three shooting suspects barricaded themselves inside.  

The incident resulted in what authorities described as a “large scale SWAT standoff” that eventually required police to use a BearCat to breach the residence.  

Less than a month later, the drug operation was back in business — police officials obtained evidence of crack cocaine and methamphetamine being sold out of the premises just last week, on Fe. 18 and 19t.

The premises remain boarded up, pending a hearing for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to be held at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 8.

 State law allows the judge to order the property to stay shut down for up to one year.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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