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Cocaine, cash and guns: Eight accused of drug trafficking in Stark & Wayne counties

The Repository logo The Repository 8/4/2022 Cassandra Nist, The Repository

CANTON - Eight people from three counties are facing federal drug trafficking charges accusing them of ties to an organization that funneled cocaine throughout Stark, Wayne and Tuscarawas counties.

A federal grand jury indicted the group on July 27. The documents were unsealed following Tuesday's arrests of several suspects in Wooster and Jackson Township by members of the Canton FBI Safe Streets Task Force.

The Canton Repository previously reported six of the suspects' arrests last month.

More:FBI task force arrests six in Canton on drug charges

U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Public Information Officer Brian McNeal said cocaine originating from Mexico was present in Ohio, specifically Northeast Ohio, but deferred all other questions to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI Cleveland Division's Public Affairs Officer Susan Licate declined to comment as to whether the cocaine came from Mexico or involved a drug cartel, saying the agency does not want jeopardize the ongoing investigation or federal case.

Federal investigators detail the Gomez-Araiza trafficking organization

According to a criminal complaint, during 2015 law enforcement became aware of a drug trafficking efforts led locally by Arnulfo Gomez-Araiza, 40, of Orrville, one of the remaining suspects arrested on Tuesday.

His organization supplied kilograms of cocaine in the area, including Stark and Wayne counties, for at least the past 15 years, federal investigators allege in a court filing.

Investigators contend Gomez-Araiza, aka Chayo, developed supply sources outside Ohio and was continually exploring new connections in southern California and the Carolinas.

Defendants Gomez-Araiza, Alejandro Jesus Quezada, 31, of Louisville, Adriana Nava Marquez, 31, of Louisville, Isidro Gutierrez-Meraz, Isidro Gutierrez- Cuevas, Vincente Guzman-Bernal, 37, of Dover, and Joshua Nagle, 39, of Jackson Township, all face one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess cocaine with intent to distribute.

Guzman-Bernal was additionally indicted on one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

According a criminal complaint, Guzman-Bernal was a citizen and native of Guatemala and had no legal immigration status in the U.S., court records show. He was once under the eye of the Department of Homeland Security and registered with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but due do recent administration changes his case was closed, court records show.

Quezada also faces one count of being a felon with a firearm.

According to a criminal complaint, a federal source was told by Guzman-Bernal that he received payments from Gomez-Araiza to drive to Columbus, on at least three occasions, and receive 1 to 2 kilograms of cocaine per trip.

The couriers would receive and deliver the narcotic to a distributor, then return the proceeds, according to federal investigators.

Federal investigators say associates met at a Mexican restaurant in Wayne County, according to a criminal complaint filed against Guzman-Bernal. The organization arranged distribution and transactions by way of cellphone calls and text messages using street slang, according to court records filed in the case.

On June 29, when three individuals tied to the group were arrested, investigators said they seized more than $265,000 in cash along two guns.

All defendants remain in custody awaiting federal court appearances, and have entered not guilty pleas, court records show.

Mexican drug cartel's cocaine seized from Cleveland warehouse

In another ongoing federal case, David Gomez-Orrantia, of Mexico, and several others were indicted in March for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substance.

Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle Baeppler said during a press conference in March that Gomez-Orrantia is affiliated with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and considered to be one of Mexico’s most violent drug gangs.

Gomez-Orrantia was reportedly selling cocaine to a Cleveland area man who distributed the cocaine out of a downtown Cleveland warehouse, federal court records detailed.

The drugs were smuggled into the United States by foot, through Columbus, New Mexico, court records stated.

The cocaine was driven via semi-trucks to Ohio, and later distributed throughout the northern Ohio.

Three months later, law enforcement started making arrests in the Stark, Tuscarawas and Wayne County area tied to the Gomez-Araiza case.

Both cases are ongoing in U.S. District Court.

Reach Cassandra; Follow on Twitter @Cassienist

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Cocaine, cash and guns: Eight accused of drug trafficking in Stark & Wayne counties


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