2 narcotics officers arrested in Ohio, charged with distributing drugs – Boston 25 News

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Authorities arrested two Columbus police officers on Tuesday on allegations that they distributed several kilograms of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, according to the Department of Justice.

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The officers, who are members of the Columbus Police Division’s drug cartel unit, were identified on Wednesday as Marco Merino, 44, of Columbus, and John Kotchkoski, 33, of Marengo. . Authorities allege that in June and August, Merino distributed about seven and a half kilograms of fentanyl that he obtained from Kotchkoski. Authorities estimate that the drugs would have cost between $ 60,000 and $ 80,000.

Authorities said Merino is also accused of accepting bribes to protect the transport of cocaine.

“Specifically, it is alleged that in March, April, May, August and September 2021, Merino accepted a total of $ 44,000 in cash in exchange for the safe transport of at least 27 kilograms of cocaine,” according to officials of the DOJ. “Unbeknownst to Merino, there was no actual cocaine and each of the transactions was controlled by federal law enforcement.”

Authorities said Kotchkoski “made himself available by radio to make any calls Merino might need” during the alleged transport of cocaine. In an affidavit, investigators said cell phone data placed Kotchkoski near Merino at the time of the alleged transports.

Officials said in court records that Merino tried to recruit a confidential informant to deal drugs with him, with the promise of law enforcement protection and assurances that he could intervene if d other law enforcement agencies attempted to investigate the informant. As part of a plan to launder drug proceeds, Merino intended to acquire Mexican citizenship and purchase properties in the country to rent to Airbnb, investigators said.

In a statement, Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant called the allegations against Merino and Kotchkoski “more worrying” and said the officers had been relieved of their duties pending the outcome of the case.

“If proven, such actions would violate the oath taken by our officers, the standards we must adhere to and the public trust,” she said. “This alleged behavior does not reflect the values ​​of this division, nor the excellent work being done by its employees. I repeat: when my officers do what is right, I will always support them. If they don’t, they will be held accountable.

Possession of 400 grams or more of fentanyl with the intention of distributing the drug is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in life imprisonment. Corruption of a federal program carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, officials say.

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