Nine charged in Lorain-Akron drug ring

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(Cleveland) - Nine people are indicted in federal court for their alleged roles in a conspiracy to bring large amounts of fentanyl and carfentanil into the United States from China and then sell the drugs in Akron and Lorain, as well as firearms and money laundering violations.

Named in the 17-count indictment are: Donte L. Gibson, 39; Audrey J. Gibson, 34; Dontaysha S. Gibson, 21; Derrick A. Adams II, 22; Lisa A. Richardson, 54, all of Akron; Lori E. Martin, 57, of Barberton; Ajarae C. Hisle, 27, of Lorain; Jamar J. Jackson, 28, of Lorain, and Garrett R. Frantz, 20, of North Canton.

All nine defendants are indicted on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl and at least 9.65 grams of carfentanil. This took place between May 2016 and February 2018, according to the indictment.

The indictment also alleges members of the conspiracy illegally used or possessed firearms, body armor and ammunition. The leaders of the conspiracy are also charged with creating companies, and buying automobiles, jewelry, handbags, furs, shoes and other items, as a way to launder their drug profits.

According to investigators, Donte and Audrey Gibson purchased fentanyl and carfentanil from China over the internet, and had the drugs shipped to locations in the Akron-Canton area through the U.S. Postal Service. They supposedly directed Richardson to open post office boxes throughout the area, and Richardson directed others to do the same.  Agents contend, Audrey Gibson retained control of all the post office box keys, according to the indictment.

Richardson, Frantz and others are accused of picking up the packages containing fentanyl and carfentanil at the P.O. boxes and bringing the packages to the Gibsons’ home on Popham Street. Donte Gibson is suspected of cutting the drugs with other white powder, turning 70 or 80 grams of pure fentanyl or carfentanil into seven kilograms of saleable product.

Investigators claim the Gibsons then distributed the drugs to Dontaysha Gibson (who is the daughter of Donte Gibson and stepdaughter to Audrey Gibson), Adams and Jackson for sale in Akron and Lorain.

Agents say the Gibsons used various residences and storage units to store the drugs and cash. They stored the drugs at their home on Popham Street until their young daughter overdosed on fentanyl she found at home.

Donte Gibson, Audrey Gibson, Dontaysha Gibson, Richardson and Martin (Audrey Gibson’s mother), are also charged with conspiracy to launder money, beginning around November 2015.

Audrey Gibson in 2015 formed JayT AllServices LLC, which purported to be in the business of remodeling, painting homes and cleaning out homes. Donte Gibson later stated that he was an employee of the his wife’s company and that he helps do home improvement work, according to the indictment.

In 2016, Audrey Gibson formed Pound Cake Entertainment LLC, which used the web site The web site purported to sell clothing and “one of a kind items” as well as offering access to a members-only Snapchat account featuring Audrey Gibson “being flirty or nasty depending on the day,” according to the indictment.

In 2017, Dontaysha Gibson formed G’s Car Care and Detail LLC, with the stated purpose of the company being car care sales and detailing. Donte Gibson later stated it was his daughter’s company but that he managed it for her, according to the indictment.

Investigators say the Gibsons opened bank accounts in connection to all three companies.

Audrey Gibson in 2017 opened a Saks Fifth Avenue Store Card and between April and December 2017 made payments on her card totaling $208,504 by using cash in store in Beachwood. She made purchases from Saks Fifth Avenue totaling $686,850 between July 2016 and February 2018 and paid for them with a combination of cash, credit cards and her Saks card. The purchases included handbags from Burberry, Chanel and Gucci, various Louis Vuitton items, Saint Laurent shoes, as well as cosmetics, fragrances and sunglasses, according to the indictment.

Donte and Audrey Gibson are charged with being felons in possession of ammunition. They were in possession of 41 rounds of ammunition in their home on Popham Street on Feb. 8, despite prior convictions that made it illegal for them to have ammunition. Donte Gibson is also charged will illegally possessing body armor. He was previously convicted in Summit County Common Pleas Court of aggravated assault with a firearms specification and trafficking in heroin. Audrey Gibson was previously convicted in Summit County Common Pleas Court of aggravated robbery and heroin trafficking, according to the indictment.

Investigators report, Dontaysha Gibson and Adams are charged with possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking, saying they were in possession of a Smith & Wesson 9 mm pistol and Rossi .38 revolver at the apartment they shared on Shadybrook Drive on Feb. 8 as part of their drug trafficking activities.

Prosecutors are seeking to forfeit more than $280,000 in cash, two firearms and ammunition seized as part of the investigation, as well as the home at 2946 Popham Street in Akron.

“These defendants brought huge quantities of deadly fentanyl and carfentanil into Akron, threatening the lives of so many of our neighbors, friends, and family,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. “They used firearms and body armor to protect their drug trafficking, and set up fake companies to launder their dirty drug money.”

“This case demonstrates the lengths drug dealers will go to in order to obtain deadly drugs to feed the addiction of their customers,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony. “This group flaunted their lucrative drug trafficking organization proceeds by purchasing homes, cars and other items in an attempt to hide their cash. The FBI will continue working with our law enforcement partners to help rid our communities of the individuals that bring poison to our streets.”

Akron Police Chief Kenneth Ball said: “I feel a strong sense of relief knowing that a group of criminals that had a major role in the city's battle against drugs, and the companion, devastating effects of addiction, will be held accountable. I am proud of the work of Akron's team and our partners with the Safe Streets Task Force. Gibson and his conspirators have been justly charged, they now need to be justly tried and sentenced.”

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force -- which is comprised of agents and officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service and the Akron Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark S. Bennett.

(Photos by Getty Images) 

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