Columbus, Ohio Police Officers Accused of Stealing and Selling Kilos of Cocaine

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (DOJ) – Two Columbus police officers have been arrested on federal charges alleging they stole multiple kilograms of cocaine and provided it to others to sell.

John Castillo, 31, of Grove City, and Joel M. Mefford, 34, of London, Ohio, were arrested today and appeared in federal court this afternoon, at which point their cases were unsealed.

According to Mefford’s indictment, in February 2020, he was investigating a drug crime and unlawfully gained access to a detached garage belonging to the subject of the investigation. It is alleged Mefford, without a warrant, discovered two kilograms of cocaine in the rafters of the garage. Mefford allegedly unlawfully seized one of the kilograms and left the other to be found during the execution of a search warrant the next morning. The defendant allegedly gave the stolen narcotics to an individual to sell.

Similarly, in February and March 2020, Mefford was investigating drug-trafficking activity at houses on Ambleside Drive and Kilbourne Avenue in Columbus. On March 7, 2020, the officer allegedly took a bag containing multiple kilograms of cocaine from the house on Ambleside Drive and arrested an individual there. He then allegedly traveled to the house on Kilbourne Avenue and removed a kilogram of cocaine. That same day, it is alleged Mefford turned in one kilogram of cocaine to evidence and stole the other kilograms to be sold.

It is further alleged that Mefford stole 20 kilograms of cocaine from the Columbus police property room in April 2020, replacing it with fake cocaine.

Mefford also allegedly deposited more than $72,000 in cash derived from the cocaine sales into his personal bank account.

Castillo’s indictment alleges that in February 2021, Castillo took approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine from a house on North Everett Avenue and did not turn it into evidence. He allegedly planted two additional kilograms of cocaine for law enforcement discovery later that day at the house. The 10 kilograms of cocaine were allegedly stored in another person’s basement before they were given to another individual to sell.

Castillo and Mefford are charged in separate indictments with possessing with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, a federal crime punishable by at least 10 years and up to life in prison. Mefford is also charged with money laundering and two counts of possessing with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.

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