Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler announced that a federal grand jury returned an eighteen-count superseding indictment charging 13 individuals as part of a drug trafficking conspiracy that sought to distribute approximately 16 kilograms of fentanyl, nearly 10 kilograms of methamphetamine and other controlled substances in the Akron area.
Law enforcement officials arrested nine members of the conspiracy this morning after the superseding indictment was unsealed in federal court. Three members of the conspiracy were arrested in September 2021 and one member was arrested in a separate case.
Named in the indictment are Damien Roger Marcel Stafford, 41, of Akron, Ohio; Chezerae D. Floyd, 44, of Akron, Ohio; Lucian D. Blackwell, 41, of Akron, Ohio; Craig L. Johnstone, 49, of Akron, Ohio; Rausheeda L. Hyshaw, 41, of Akron, Ohio; Antwain D. Stewart, 41, of Akron, Ohio; Ricky Lynn Vaughn, 60, of Akron, Ohio; Clifford E. Stafford, 44, of Akron, Ohio; Dorshaun R. Tucker, 41, of Akron, Ohio; Alexander Prieto, 41, of Cleveland, Ohio; Marian Ripley, 21, of Akron, Ohio; Travis Blankenship, 31, of Charleston, West Virginia and Jessica McClanahan, 31, of Charleston, West Virginia.
Each defendant is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, methamphetamine, valeryl fentanyl and cocaine. In addition, various members of the conspiracy are also charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, maintaining a drug premises and using a communication facility to facilitate a drug offense.
According to the indictment, it is alleged that Defendant Damien Stafford purchased fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine from drug suppliers, including Defendant Prieto, in Cleveland and elsewhere. Stafford is accused of using Defendants Hyshaw, Floyd, Blankenship, McClanahan, Clifford Strafford, Tucker, Blackwell and Riley to transport the drugs to be stored at multiple residences in the Akron area. It is alleged that Stafford then used Defendants Vaughn, Johnstone, Floyd, Blackwell and Stewart to distribute the drugs.
As part of the conspiracy, the indictment alleges that the defendants used these residences in Akron as locations to store and distribute their controlled substances. In addition, conspiracy members are accused of using cell phones to communicate and drug “testers” to evaluate the strength and quality of a controlled substance intended for sale.
On September 23, 2021, law enforcement officers with the FBI, ATF, Greater Akron Safe Streets Task Force and Akron Police Department executed search warrants at multiple residences connected to the drug trafficking conspiracy. At one residence, officers encountered Damien Stafford wearing latex gloves and a mask. Officers detained Stafford, entered a bathroom and found multiple bags of various sizes on the floor and inside the toilet. According to court documents, the bags contained powdery white and off-white substances that were later tested and confirmed to contain fentanyl.
In total, law enforcement officials seized approximately 16.6 kilograms of fentanyl, 9.9 kilograms of methamphetamine, one kilogram of valeryl fentanyl, 400 grams of cocaine, one semiautomatic rifle, and four semiautomatic pistols during the execution of the search warrants. Defendants Damien Stafford, Ricky Lynn Vaughn and Rausheeda Hyshaw were also arrested during the execution of the warrants.
If convicted, a defendants’ sentence will be determined by the court after a review of factors unique to this case, including the defendants’ prior criminal records, if any, the defendants’ roles in the offenses, and the characteristics of the violations.
In all cases, sentences will not exceed the statutory maximums, and in most cases, will be less than the maximums.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI, ATF and the Akron Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Peter E. Daly.