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2 Columbus officers charged with distributing fentanyl, taking bribes

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 12:03 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WXIX) - Federal agents arrested two officers with the Columbus Division of Police’s drug cartel unit, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Vipal Patel.

According to Patel, 44-year-old Marco Merino and 33-year-old John Kotchkoski were allegedly involved in the distribution of approximately 7.5 kilograms of fentanyl. Merino also allegedly accepted bribes to protect the transportation of cocaine.

According to an affidavit, Merino allegedly tried to recruit a confidential informant to traffic drugs with him. He also allegedly promised law enforcement protection to the individual and said he could intervene if other law enforcement agencies attempted to investigate the informant.

Court documents state Merino intended to gain citizenship in Mexico as part of a plan to launder the money made from the drugs.

The plans included buying properties in Mexico to run as Airbnb properties, Patel said.

According to Patel, allegedly in March, April, May, August, and September 2021, Merino accepted $44,000 in cash in exchange for protecting the safe transport of at least 27 kilograms of cocaine.

Patel said there was no actual cocaine and each of the transactions was controlled by federal law enforcement.

According to Patel, during the transports of the purported cocaine, it is alleged Kotchkoski made himself available by radio to make any calls that Merino might need, including to other law enforcement officials, to protect the safe transportation of the cocaine.

An affidavit says in June and August 2021, Merino allegedly distributed about 7.5 kilograms of fentanyl the Kotchkoski provided to him.

Patel said Merino would make between $60,000 and $80,000 for the sale of fentanyl.

Kotchkoski is being held in Delaware County and Merino is in the Northwest Ohio Corrections Center.

Possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl is punishable by 10 years to life in prison.

Bribery is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

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