A nearly year-long investigation into what police called a large-scale drug trafficking operation in Clark County with ties to Mexico resulted in indictments against three men, including one held on $5 million bond.
Pedro Arriaga-Reyes, Ebonyuwezo Jones and Leroy Lewis III were named in the 19-count indictment by a Clark County grand jury. Charges included possession of drugs, money laundering, drug trafficking, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and conspiracy.
It’s one of the largest drug operations busted in Clark County in recent years. Clark County Assistant Prosecutor Andrew Picek said it’s uncommon to find an individual handling multiple kilograms of cocaine here. When purchased on the street, buyers only receive a few ounces, Picek said.
The Springfield Police Division’s narcotics squad had investigated Arriaga-Reyes since September 2012, believing he was supplying large quantities of cocaine, heroin and marijuana to drug traffickers in and around Springfield, said Chief Stephen Moody.
“He’s a major mid-level dealer,” he said.
Between May and August, Springfield police, with the assistance of the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office, Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and German Twp. police, executed 11 search warrants in undisclosed locations in Springfield, Clark County and Dayton, Moody said.
One of those locations was the Mi Jalapeño restaurant, where Arriaga-Reyes worked as a server. The restaurant voluntarily closed temporarily after the search and following an inspection by the Clark County Combined Health District regarding several health violations. However, officers found no drugs there.
Several restaurant patrons on Thursday said Arriaga-Reyes was a good server, even requesting him by name. Moody said it’s possible Arriaga-Reyes used the job to blend in.
“He’s living here in our community, working here in our community,” Moody said of the drug operation. “So he’s fitting in, blending in the community and also trafficking in large amounts of cocaine.”
Lewis and Jones allegedly purchased drugs from Arriaga-Reyes by the kilo. He allegedly supplied a kilogram of cocaine to Lewis in 2012 and another to him in May 2013. He also allegedly supplied a kilogram of cocaine to Jones in June.
It’s believed Arriaga-Reyes was getting his drugs in Mexico, Picek said.
When Lewis was arrested May 21, he was found to be in possession of more than 250 grams of cocaine. At Jones’ arrest on June 20, he possessed more than 1,000 grams of cocaine, Picek said.
Police also confiscated seven firearms and more than $50,000 in cash, and seized five vehicles.
The investigation is ongoing, Moody said, and the narcotics division is working on drug cases from Arriaga-Reyes’ “position in both directions” to make arrests.
“Unfortunately there’s always someone there ready to step up and take his place because of the cash flow and the money being made,” Moody said.
Arriaga-Reyes and Lewis were arraigned Thursday. An illegal immigrant, Arriaga-Reyes has a high risk of flight because of his connections outside the U.S., Picek said, and a “significant number of assets not seized” yet by authorities. His bond was set at $5 million.
Lewis’ bond was set at $250,000. Jones, who was indicted previously and posted a $100,000 bond, will be arraigned on the new indictment today in Clark County Common Pleas Court.
Moody said with crimes like this, ultimately it’s the neighborhoods that suffer. That’s why citizen tips are so key in rooting out drug crime.
“(The neighborhoods) are the people who have to live with the traffic and the increased noise and trash, the thefts from their vehicles and their homes,” he said.
“Hot Spot Cards,” which can be obtained at the police station, Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Elderly United Services, allow citizens to make anonymous reports on criminal activity. They can also call police at (937) 324-7716 to make a report.
“We need the community’s help in these efforts,” Moody said.