Police: Major Medina County cocaine ring busted


(Cleveland) - Seventeen people have been indicted in federal court for their roles in a conspiracy to purchase large amounts of powder cocaine, cook the drug into crack cocaine and then sell it in and around Medina County. Twelve other people have been charged state court.

Indicted in federal court are: Troy Bankhead, 47, of Cleveland; Dona Battle, 44, of Cleveland; William Battle, 45, of Cleveland; Aaron Watson, 31, of Medina; Anthony Patterson, 50, of Columbia Station; Carlos Tripp, 44, of Medina; Dale Lind, 58, of Medina; Douglas Cameron, 48, of Medina; Erica Latten, 29, of Cleveland; Fannie Tripp, 60, of Medina; Felicia Finowski, 49, Columbia Station; Jennifer Cayce, 38, of Medina; Jermaine Tripp, 36, of Medina; John Spickler, 38, of Brunswick; John Wise, 53, of Medina; Michael Powell, 52, of Medina, and Raymel King, 30, of Cleveland.

According to the six-count indictment unsealed today:

Bankhead sold large amounts of powder cocaine to Dona Battle between August 2016 and February 2017. Battle then cooked the cocaine into crack cocaine at 26799 Royalton Road, Columbia Station (the residence of Patterson and Finowski), 5651 Columbia Road, Medina (the residence of Cameron and Cayce) and 1406 West 75th Street, Apartment 3, Cleveland (the residence of Latten).

Dona Battle then sold the crack cocaine to several other dealers, including Watson, Lind, Carlos Tripp, William Battle, Raymel King and Jermaine Tripp, who then sold it to drug users.

Dona Battle used 417 Bronson Street, Apartment A, Medina (the residence of Fannie Tripp) and 997 Substation Road, Brunswick (the residence of Spickler) as drug houses from which he could sell crack and powder cocaine.

Spickler, Latten, Wise, Patterson and Finowski also provided transportation for Battle to obtain crack and powder cocaine for further distribution.

Investigators say, these cases are the result on an 18-month investigation, which was a cooperative effort between the DEA, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Medina County Drug Task Force. 

The probe consisted of undercover purchases of drugs, the execution of search warrants, and other investigative techniques. 

Detectives say the investigation resulted in several significant seizures including more than 37 pounds of cocaine, $516,975 in cash, a tractor-trailer, five other vehicles and five firearms. 

"This organization used homes and apartments to cook crack cocaine, which it sold in and around Medina," U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said. "It was a spoke in a larger organization that trafficked a lot of cocaine. These defendants will now be held accountable for their actions."

DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Plancon said: "Putting a stop to this criminal conspiracy is significant. The seizure of 37 pounds of cocaine and over half a million dollars of drug-dealing proceeds indicates that this group was connected with drug traffickers at the highest levels. Halting their activities makes everyone in the region safer. The efforts of the Medina County Drug Task Force and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation have been particularly integral to this investigation's success." 

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Medina County Drug Task Force, Medina County Sheriff's Office, Medina Police Department, National Guard Intelligence, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Cleveland Division of Police, Cleveland Heights Police Department, Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department, Lorain County Drug Task Force, Lake County Narcotics, Akron Police Department, Summit County Drug Unit, Ashtabula County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Border Patrol and Suburban Police Anti-Crime Network Drug Enforcement Unit, with assistance from the Medina County Prosecutor's Office.\

(Photos by Ken Robinson/WTAM)

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