According to NBC4i, Two Columbus police officers were arrested by the FBI and charged with crimes connected to the distribution of fentanyl.
The officers, identified as John J. Kotchkoski, 33, and Marco Merino, 44, were arrested Tuesday on the charges. Both are officers in the department’s narcotics division.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Ohio, Merino and Kotchkoski were allegedly involved in the distribution of approximately seven and a half kilograms of fentanyl. Merino is also accused of accepting bribes to protect the transportation of cocaine.
Court documents state Merino allegedly tried to recruit a confidential informant to traffic drugs with him, and allegedly promised law enforcement protection to the individual and said he could intervene if other law enforcement agencies attempted to investigate the confidential informant.
Columbus police chief Elaine Bryant released a statement saying, “These allegations are beyond disturbing. If proven, such actions would violate the oath our offices takes, the standards we must hold ourselves to, and the trust of the public. These officers have been relieved of duty pending the outcome of their criminal cases. We have, and will continue to, work cooperatively with federal authorities.”
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther tweeted, “This morning two Columbus Division of Police officers, John Kotchkoski and Marco Merino, were charged with crimes related to distributing fentanyl. I am flat out angry. The allegations are disturbing and represent a complete breach of trust.”