Three-county drug ring indictments include counts against Sullivan man

By Jason Hawk -

A Sullivan man has been indicted in connection to a multi-county heroin and cocaine trafficking ring.

James Diaz, 44, is one of five suspects accused of drug operations in Ashland, Medina, and Wayne counties. A total of 116 charges have been filed against the gang.

Other suspects include Michael Kouns, 26, of Polk; Sarah Krupansky, 28, of Polk; David Wertman, 18, of Copley; and Richard Lawless, 48, of Polk. Three others were indicted Friday but their names were not released.

Lawless is the alleged ringleader, according to authorities. Medina County Drug Task Force commander Gary Hubbard called him “a menace to the area.”

Lawless faces a slew of felonious assault, aggravated burglary, and abduction counts in addition to drug charges.

Investigators uncovered heroin, cocaine, prescription drugs, and marijuana with an estimated value of $1 million in the course of serving several search warrants and making controlled buys in the case, said a release from Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office.

They also seized cash, illegally-owned guns, and items used to make heroin pills.

“Heroin abuse and addiction are at epidemic levels in Ohio and across the country, and law enforcement from state, local, and federal agencies are working hard to make sure traffickers don’t get away with pushing this deadly drug,” said DeWine, who appeared Sunday night on CBS’ “60 Minutes” discussing Ohio’s drug problem.

“The fact that some members of this operation were not only selling heroin, but also disguising it in the form of a pill is especially concerning,” he said.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk