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Two Columbus Officers Arrested By FBI On Drug Charges

Two Columbus narcotics officers have been arrested by the FBI on charges connected to the distribution of fentanyl and attempts to smuggle other drugs.

Federal prosecutors made the announcement Wednesday. Officers John Kotchkoski and Marco Merino were arrested Tuesday and are slated for detention hearings later this week. Each could face a potential life sentence if convicted.

The two officers were involved in the distribution of approximately 7 1/2 kilograms of fentanyl, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Ohio.

Merino is also accused of accepting $44,000 overall in cash bribes to protect the transportation of cocaine on various occasions between March and September of this year, although authorities said there was no actual cocaine and each of the transactions was controlled by federal law enforcement.

“These allegations are beyond disturbing,” Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said in a statement Wednesday. “If proven, such actions would violate the oath our officers take, the standards we must hold ourselves to, and the trust of the public.”

Bryant, who has only been on the job since June, said the two officers have been suspended pending the outcome of the criminal cases.

“I will say it again: when my officers do what’s right, I will always have their back,” Bryant said. “When they don’t, they will be held accountable.”

The Fraternal Order of Police Capitol City Lodge #9, a police officers union, said it was aware of the allegations and said that if the allegations are true, “these individuals have no place” in the union or the Columbus police.

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