(LANCASTER, Ohio) -- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Fairfield County Prosecutor Gregg Marx, Fairfield-Hocking Major Crimes Task Force Commander Eric Brown, and Ohio State Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Kyle Parker announced today that eight people were indicted last week on charges filed in connection with a large-scale drug operation that supplied illicit drugs to customers in Ohio and across the country.
The indictments of the owner and employees of Oncore Wholesale follow a joint-investigation by the Fairfield-Hocking Major Crimes Task Force, the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), and the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy.
The investigation uncovered a large amount of Kratom, Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds, and nitrous oxide being sold by the company over the internet for consumption. Authorities made the discovery after serving a search warrant at the company's warehouse on Busey Road in Fairfield County in July.
Canal Winchester resident David G. Surratt Jr., 37, the owner of Oncore Wholesale, was indicted by a Fairfield County Grand Jury on Friday on the following charges:
• Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity
• Trademark Counterfeiting
• Trafficking in Drugs
• Trafficking in Harmful Intoxicants
• Possession or Sale of Unapproved Drugs
The following Oncore Wholesale employees were indicted on the same charges, plus an additional charge of Conspiracy to Commit Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity:
• Sarah M. Surratt, 32, Canal Winchester
• Adam D. Haase, 38, Columbus
• Shawn R. Lewis, 38, Columbus
• David A. Highben, 40, Columbus
• Amanda E. Parsons, 25, Lancaster
• Kevin J. Wilt, 27, Canal Winchester
• Jason E. Kibler, 36, Reynoldsburg
"These individuals were blatantly promoting and selling the products for consumption," said Attorney General DeWine. "Although these are not your typical street drugs, we do have concerns that abuse of these substances could become more common."
"These drugs mimic the effects of other very hazardous drugs," said Fairfield-Hocking Major Crimes Task Force Commander Eric Brown. "This is a whole new side to the drug trade, and we want to stop these drugs from coming into our communities before they become a more widespread problem."
The Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seed is a schedule three drug and nitrous oxide is often abused as an inhalant. Kratom, an herbal drug grown in southeast Asia, has no legitimate medical use and has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, therefore making it illegal to manufacture for human consumption, posses for human consumption, or sell for human consumption.
“These indictments are the result of local and state law enforcement agencies working together to combat the trafficking and possession of drugs that cause harm to the citizens of Ohio,” said Jesse Wimberly, Spokesperson, Ohio State Board of Pharmacy. "The Board of Pharmacy looks forward to providing testimony regarding the non-FDA approved drug Kratom, which is an emerging drug of concern that state and local authorities are closely monitoring."
"I have high praise for the authorities involved in this investigation, including the alert Fairfield County Sheriff's deputy who initially discovered the warehouse," said Prosecutor Marx. "I also want to give credit to the tireless efforts of Assistant Prosecuting Attorney James A. Davey who presented the cases to the Fairfield County Grand Jury and spent countless hours discussing the cases with the officers and preparing the extremely complicated indictments."
In addition to the drugs, investigators also uncovered thousands of branded products, including beer cans, energy drinks, and other household products that had been modified with hidden compartments and sold to conceal illegal products from detection.
Authorities determined that the business made more than $2 million from the illegal sales in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
Upon serving an arrest warrant on David Surratt Jr. earlier this week, investigators found an additional warehouse on Groveport Road in Franklin County, which also stored a large amount of Kratom and counterfeit products. Additional charges could be filed.
Members of the Fairfield-Hocking Major Crimes Task Force include the Pickerington Police Department, Lancaster Police Department, Logan Police Department, Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office, Fairfield County Prosecutor’s Office, Hocking County Sheriff’s Office, and Hocking County Prosecutor’s Office.
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840
Jill Del Greco: 614-466-3840