The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 26, 2013

Ashtabula man arrested for drugs faces more charges

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA —  An Ashtabula man arrested on drug-related charges Thursday could face federal sanctions because of the quantity and value of drugs allegedly in his possession, officials said Friday.

Ernest Williams, 32, of Topper Avenue, has been charged with trafficking in drugs and fleeing/eluding, both felonies, as well as resisting arrest, a misdemeanor, according to an Ashtabula Municipal Court spokeswoman. A preliminary hearing will be scheduled, she said.

Judge Albert Camplese set bond at $100,000 cash/surety on the felony charges and $5,000 cash/surety on the misdemeanor, the spokeswoman said. He will be represented by a public defender, according to court records.

However, additional — more serious — charges could await Williams depending on the results of laboratory tests, said Detective Greg Leonhard of the TAG Law Enforcement Task Force, which helped coordinate the arrest. Also, because of the quantity, there’s a good chance Williams will face federal-level drug charges, Leonhard said.

Williams was arrested after a vehicle pursuit that culminated with a foot chase down into the Ashtabula Gulf, according to a TAG news release. Agents said Williams had been the subject of an investigation for one year “involving multiple controlled purchases of heroin,” according to the statement.

After the arrest, police used a search warrant to examine Williams’ apartment. Inside were 266 grams of heroin, 64 grams of cocaine and 200 Ecstasy pills, along with other prescription medication and a small amount of marijuana, according to the statement.

The range and value of drugs seized is nearly unprecedented in the recent history of TAG, Leonhard said.

“Since I’ve been in TAG this is the biggest (search warrant), just in variety of drugs alone,” he said. “(Williams) was operating a super-center. He was a significant heroin dealer.”

Heroin is being sold for $200 a gram in the area, while the selling price of cocaine ranges from $80 to $120 a gram, Leonhard said. Factor in the Ecstasy tablets, and officers easily found more than $60,000 worth of illegal narcotics in the apartment, police said.

Assisting TAG in Thursday’s arrest were Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, Ashtabula Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office, according to the statement.