Ohio man convicted in drug case investigated by local agencies

Staff Reports • Jul 24, 2017 at 5:12 PM

An Ohio man was convicted Friday on drug charges following an investigation that included officials from the Lebanon Police Department and Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.

Ricky Thompson, 43, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine, according to Jack Smith, acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.

A federal jury in Nashville found Thompson guilty of those charges, as well as charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit witness intimidation, after a two-week trial.

Smith praised the law enforcement agencies and trial team after the guilty verdict.

“Thanks to the exemplary cooperation between law enforcement agencies spanning several states, we have now dismantled another organization responsible for pumping large quantities of addictive and deadly drugs into our communities,” Smith said. 

“We will continue to expand our efforts to bring those to justice who feed the devastating heroin epidemic.”

During 2015 and 2016, Thompson and four other people were indicted in connection with the case on drug distribution charges.

Testimony at trial established that Thompson operated a multi-state drug-trafficking operation that was responsible for the distribution of narcotics in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio and Tennessee. 

Thompson’s heroin was responsible for multiple heroin-related overdoses in Tennessee, and at least one fatal overdose of a young woman in Ohio.

In March 2015, agents with the DEA Drug Task Force executed a series of search warrants in Nashville that resulted in multiple arrests and the seizure of approximately 300 grams of heroin and cocaine in a stash-house maintained by Thompson’s organization. 

Those arrested in 2015 included John Rupley, 35, of Toledo, Ohio; Derek Gilligan, 25, of Toledo, Ohio; Justin Clements, 30, of Nashville; and Tiffany Wright, 28, also of Nashville. All of these co-defendants have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Evidence at trial showed that following the 2015 arrests, Derek Gilligan attempted to warn Thompson that authorities had identified him as the head of the operation. 

On March 2, 2016, agents with the DEA, FBI and local Toledo law-enforcement executed federal search warrants at four locations operated by Thompson in Toledo, Ohio. 

Authorities seized eight firearms, more than $200,000 worth of heroin, cocaine, crack-cocaine, marijuana and suboxone, five vehicles, and almost $10,000 cash.  

After Thompson’s arrest and subsequent extradition to Nashville, he directed remaining members of his drug-trafficking organization in Toledo to intimidate and harass people whom he discovered had been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in Nashville.

Thompson faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, up to life, when he is sentenced in November.

This case was investigated by the DEA; the FBI; the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department; the Lebanon Police Department; the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department; the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department; the Toledo, Ohio Police Department; the Lucas County, Ohio Sheriff’s Department; the Ohio State Police; and the Oldham County, Kentucky, Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Clay Lee and Phillip Wehby prosecuted the case.

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