Ohio Man Sentenced As Part of Operation “Big Oak” After Exposing Police Officer to Near-Fatal Dose of Fentanyl


Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

10TV in Ohio is reporting that an East Liverpool man, Justin Buckel, has been sentenced to six-and-a-half-years in prison after pleading guilty to charges related to drug trafficking, including assault on a police officer. In May 2017, East Liverpool Police Officer Chris Green was exposed to fentanyl after searching Buckel’s care after a traffic stop. According to Cinncinati.com, Green became unconscious, and required four doses of naloxone to recover from the fentanyl poisoning.

NBC4i reports that Buckel pleaded guilty to 23 charges: engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, aggravated trafficking in drugs (three counts), trafficking in heroin (two counts), trafficking in cocaine (two counts), aggravated possession of drugs (13 counts), tampering with evidence, and assault on a peace officer.

Buckel’s arrest was part of a larger sweep in Ohio, dubbed “Operation Big Oak” (Breaking Into Gangs/Opiate Addiction Knockdown), in which 100 people were indicted by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. A press release from DeWine’s office described the action as breaking up a “drug trafficking organization...allegedly responsible for funneling the equivalent of approximately one million potentially fatal doses of carfentanil and approximately 350,000 potentially fatal doses of fentanyl into Columbiana County alone.”

Attorney General DeWine remarked that, “The amount of fentanyl and carfentanil that this drug trafficking organization allegedly brought to this area was enough to kill every single person in Columbiana County, plus every man, woman, and child in 11 other nearby counties.”

The Columbiana County Drug Task Force and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation special agents working as part of Attorney General DeWine's Heroin Unit investigated the case.  Special prosecutors are prosecuting the case with Attorney General DeWine's Heroin Unit and Columbiana County Prosecutor Robert Herron. Assistance with investigations and serving arrest warrants was provided by the U.S. Marshals Service and Hancock County (W.Va.) Sheriff's Office.