AKRON, Ohio – Akron police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration have made three arrests and seized firearms and drugs following a 19-month investigation into reports of marijuana being sold from a vape shop.
George May, 22, of Tallmadge, Tyrone Keith, 44, of Canton and Demarco Jones, 24, of Canal Fulton have been charged in federal court with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and THC, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana and THC.
The men were arrested Sept. 4 by Akron police and a DEA task force, who also executed search warrants that day at eight businesses and homes connected to the investigation. The searches netted 18 guns, 774 pounds of marijuana, 422 pounds of edibles, 1,143 pounds of THC vape cartridges, 203 pounds of concentrated marijuana wax or dabs and more than $250,000 in cash, according to police.
Police say some of the edibles included children’s cereal that had been infused with liquid THC and repackaged, which could pose a risk to unsuspecting children.
The investigation began in February 2019, after someone reported to police that employees at the now-closed Bubba Dubba’s Vape Shop at on the 1200 block of East Tallmadge Avenue on Akron’s northeast side were selling marijuana, THC vapes and THC edibles from the shop, according to a police report.
Investigators identified Jones, 24, as one of the shop’s main suppliers of marijuana products. Police say Jones is a former Akron resident who moved to Stark County, and has engaged in criminal activity in Summit, Portage, Medina and Stark counties, according to a criminal complaint.
In December 2019, the investigation went from being solely handled by Akron’s narcotics unit to being investigated by the DEA-sponsored Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Other agencies involved in so-called “Operation Vapor Trail” were the FBI, the sheriff’s offices of Summit, Portage, Stark, Medina and Mahoning counties, the State Highway Patrol and the office of Justin Herdman, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
“The defendants in this case allegedly went to great lengths to market, sell and transport marijuana and THC products, often designed to look like candies and cereals, to their customers in the Northern District and across the country,” Herdman said in a statement. “However, thanks to the hard work and partnership of numerous local, state and federal agencies, law enforcement agents were able to disrupt this drug trafficking operation and get significant quantities of marijuana product, illicit cash, and high-powered firearms off of our streets.”
DEA Special Agent Keith Martin said the defendants are accused of running a “sophisticated” drug operation in northern Ohio, and Akron Police Chief Kenneth Ball added that the 18 firearms seized were possessed illegally.
“This lengthy investigation is a great representation of that diligence,” Ball said. “It also illustrates the power of collective effort and the meaningfulness of the shared work between the Akron Police Department and our federal partners. The suspects arrested in this operation are a threat to our community, as are the 18 guns, which were illegally possessed, and thousands of pounds of drugs.”