Accused gang leader in custody

Cleveland man arraigned in Columbiana County court

LISBON — A Cleveland man accused of being one of the leaders of the Down the Way drug gang appeared Monday for arraignment in Columbiana Common Pleas Court nearly a year after his indictment as part of Operation Big Oak.

Allen Jackson, 26, who is also known as Keith, was taken into custody in Cleveland Wednesday and pleaded not guilty Monday to 16 felony charges and five forfeiture specifications, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, and participating in a criminal gang, a second-degree felony, as well as 10 counts of aggravated drug trafficking and four counts of trafficking in cocaine.

The drug charges accuse Jackson of selling fentanyl, oxycodone and cocaine, including occasions during March and April of 2017 when Jackson is accused of selling large amounts of cocaine, making those two charges first-degree felonies.

Operation Big Oak was a 757-count indictment, which included charges for about 100 defendants, most of whom have been served and in some cases already convicted of drug-related crimes. The indictments were issued by a special session of the Columbiana County Common Pleas Court grand jury in October of 2017.

Jackson is one of nine people from the indictment included in the charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Along with two other defendants, he is facing the charge of participating in a criminal gang, which alleges that starting about July 14, 2014 and continuing through Aug. 11, 2017, and occurring in the counties of Columbiana, Cuyahoga and Medina counties, the three men engaged in criminal gang activity as a member of Down the Way, a criminal street gang involved in the distribution of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl.

Jackson is scheduled for a Dec. 11 jury trial. His bond was set at $500,000 cash or surety.

He is one of four Jackson brothers named in the indictment, who investigators said were responsible for the gang’s activities that brought 1.4 million doses of drugs into Columbiana County from the Cleveland area, according to the indictment.

Johnson is a reporter for Lisbon Morning Journal.