AKRON (WJER) (September 7, 2022) – Federal prosecutors have charged eight men with operating a sophisticated drug trafficking organization that they say has supplied cocaine in Wayne, Stark, and Tuscarawas counties for at least the past 15 years.
The U.S. Department of justice this week announced the charges against the eight men, including one Tuscarawas County resident: 37-year-old Vicente Guzman-Bernal of Dover.
Each defendant is charged in federal court with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.
Guzman-Bernal is charged with an additional count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. An indictment accuses him of orchestrating transactions and distributing cocaine in the area for the Gomez-Araiza drug trafficking organization.
Court documents say FBI special agents arrested Guzman-Bernal June 29 with 82 grams of cocaine at a residence in the 300 block of North Main Street, less than a third of a mile from South Elementary School.
Court documents say Guzman-Bernal is a Guatemalan citizen in the country illegally.
A jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 11 in U.S. District Court in Akron.
Press Release from the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Ohio:
Eight Charged with Operating Drug Trafficking Organization that Distributed Kilograms of Cocaine Throughout Wayne, Stark and Tuscarawas Counties
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler announced that eight men in the Canton area were charged in a three-count indictment with operating a drug trafficking organization that distributed kilogram quantities of cocaine throughout Wayne, Stark and Tuscarawas Counties and elsewhere in the Northern District of Ohio.
Named in the indictment are Arnuflo Gomez-Araiza, 40, of Orrville, Ohio; Alejandro Jesus Quezada, 33, of Louisville, Ohio; Adrian Nava Marquez, 32, of Canton. Ohio; Luis Soto-Perez, 27, of Massillon, Ohio; Isidro Gutierrez-Meraz, 32, of Orrville, Ohio; Isidro Gutierrez-Cuevas, 56, of Orrville, Ohio; Vicente Guzman-Bernal, 37, of Dover, Ohio and Joshua Nagle, 40, of Canton, Ohio.
Each defendant is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. Defendant Vicente Guzman-Bernal is charged with an additional count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and defendant Alejandro Jesus Quezada is charged with an additional count of felon in possession of a firearm.
According to court documents, it is alleged that in March 2020, federal, state and local law enforcement authorities began an investigation into a suspected drug trafficking organization led by defendant Arnuflo Gomez-Araiza based in the Wayne and Stark County area.
According to the indictment, the members of the Gomez-Araiza drug trafficking organization are alleged to have distributed, sold and transported kilogram quantities of cocaine in the Northern District of Oho and elsewhere in the state of Ohio. It is alleged that members of the drug trafficking organization received shipments of cocaine, facilitated numerous drug transactions and shipped the drug trafficking proceeds to others throughout the state of Ohio via couriers.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after a review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offenses and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum; in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
This case was investigated by the FBI Canton, Wayne County MEDWAY Drug Task Force, Canton Police Department, Jackson Township Police Department, Massillon Police Department, Stark County Sheriff’s Office, Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office, Dover Police Department and the FBI TOC-W Task Force. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Toni Beth Schnellinger Feisthamel.