LORAIN — The Lorain County Drug Task Force and Lorain police announced Tuesday that they arrested a major PCP trafficker last year as part of a long-running investigation that spanned the country and netted more than $1 million worth of the drug known on the street as “angel dust” or “water.”
John Henry Allen, 48, was arrested by Westlake police Nov. 5 during a planned traffic stop on Interstate 90. Police found a gallon-sized Lipton Sweet Tea jug full of liquid PCP in the backseat of his 2008 Cadillac Escalade during the stop and another two jugs of the liquid form of the violence-inducing hallucinogen in a Vermilion storage locker.
Allen is in federal custody awaiting trial on possession with intent to distribute PCP and a federal weapons charge.
Task Force Commander Dennis Cavanaugh said the total volume of PCP, or phencyclidine, taken from Allen was about 3 gallons, which has a street value of around $1.2 million.
He said Allen was a high-level distributor of PCP, which was imported from the San Francisco area, in both Lorain and Cuyahoga counties.
Allen had been investigated since late 2009 for allegedly overseeing an operation that brought cocaine from Mexico up to the area using both the U.S. mail and drug mules. Cavanaugh estimated that the investigation, which also included the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, into Allen’s organization netted roughly $1 million in cash that was seized by people transporting money for the group.
But Allen shifted gears last year and began trafficking in PCP after the seizures, Cavanaugh said.
In an affidavit accompanying the federal drug and weapons charges that Allen faces, DEA Agent James Goodwin wrote an FBI confidential informant made a drug purchase in Cleveland in July 2012 that also led to Allen.
The drug dealer from whom the informant was buying said that the person who matched Allen’s description was running the drug operation out of a storage shed and was buying about seven gallons of PCP each week.
Investigators obtained a warrant to attach a GPS tracking device to Allen’s Cadillac Escalade in September and the tracking data led them to Vermilion Midway Mini Storage on Liberty Avenue, where they installed a hidden camera to watch the unit rented by Allen’s girlfriend.
On Nov. 5, investigators saw Allen put a Lipton jug — something Goodwin wrote is commonly used to transport PCP, which is normally brown — into the back of his Escalade and drive off.
Police followed Allen that morning, including into Westlake, where an officer stopped him from crossing over the lane markers as he was changing lanes, Goodwin wrote. A police dog was brought in and alerted to narcotics in the SUV.
In addition to the jug full of PCP, police also found a small amount of marijuana in the vehicle.
Allen admitted during an interview that the jug was full of PCP and also told police that there were two more jugs in the trunk of a 2010 Porsche Panamera that was in the Vermilion storage shed. Police also found a loaded .38 caliber revolver in the Porsche’s trunk.
Although Allen was arrested in November, Cavanaugh and Lorain police Sgt. Tom Nimon said the arrest wasn’t announced until now because the investigation into Allen’s organization was ongoing in other parts of the country, including California.
Nimon said the investigation is still continuing and others, including lower level dealers, also could face charges, but no other arrests have been made locally.
Nimon said PCP isn’t all that common in Lorain County, but those who take it are extremely dangerous. He said it can sometimes take a half-dozen officers to subdue one person on PCP.
“They are unbelievably strong when they ingest this stuff,” he said.
Cavanaugh said that in addition to increased strength, PCP users don’t feel pain.
Allen has an extensive criminal history, including an involuntary manslaughter conviction for his role in the 1994 shooting death of Edwin Johnson in Cleveland.
Maria Russo, spokeswoman for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty, said Johnson was shot inside a vehicle at St. Clair and Woodworth avenues on Nov. 9, 1994.
Allen had originally been charged with aggravated murder in the case, but took a plea deal that reduced the charge to involuntary manslaughter. A second man, Brownnell Abston, pleaded guilty to murder and is serving a sentence of 15 years to life in connection with the shooting.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.