YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A man who had $1.2 million cash and 51 pounds of cocaine at his home when it was searched by drug enforcement agents was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison.
The sentence was handed down by U.S. Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. in the U.S. Northern District Court of Ohio to Vincent Barber, 61, of Youngstown.
Barber pleaded guilty June 27 before Judge Oliver to charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime.
Four other charges were dropped in exchange for Barber’s plea. The sentence was agreed upon by the attorneys in the case at the time of the plea and upheld by Judge Oliver.
Barber was arrested in April 2022 on a warrant charging him and Ramon Wright, 56, with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, fentanyl and heroin, and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug crime.
Barber was arrested at his Gibson Street home.
Wright has been on the run since Feb. 13, 2019, the day a search warrant was served in the case where investigators found several guns and drugs, including 101 pounds of cocaine at homes on Gibson Street and Potomac Avenue and over $1.2 million cash.
A sentencing memorandum by Barber’s Akron-based attorney, James Campbell, said that Barber has struggled with drug addiction all his life and that his client grew up in “war zones” in Youngstown and Farrell, Pennsylvania, without his father being present in his life.
Barber played football, basketball and boxed in his youth and graduated from Farrell High School in 1981, the memorandum said. The memorandum said Barber also qualified for Social Security disability and worked at manual labor jobs for most of his life.
A DEA agent testified during a detention hearing for Barber shortly after he was arrested that an investigation into Barber and Wright began after they received a call from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration office in Miami in late 2018. The Miami office told their Youngstown counterparts that they received word from a confidential informant that either a drug cartel or drug trafficking organization had asked the informant to travel to Youngstown to get some cash.
The agent testified that the cartel or drug trafficking organization did not know the man they were asking to make the trip to Youngstown was a confidential informant.
Agents began surveillance of Barber, and just before 1 p.m. on Feb. 8, 2019, they noticed Barber and Wright, driving separate vehicles, leave one of the houses on Gibson Street that authorities say Barber was using to store drugs.
Wright was doing “counter-surveillance,” the DEA agent testified, but investigators were still able to track Barber to the parking lot of a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant on Market Street. There, Barber got out of his vehicle with a black bag, which he put in the vehicle of the confidential informant and then drove away.
The bag was later revealed to have $300,000 cash, the agent said.
Barber and Wright split up and so did investigators, the agent testified. As they followed Wright into what they believed was Farrell, he was driving several miles per hour under the speed limit, a sign that he had probably realized he was being followed, so the investigators broke off surveillance.
A few days later, members of the Youngstown DEA office served the federal search warrant in the case where they found three guns and drugs.
At Barber’s home, authorities found 51 pounds of cocaine and the $1.2 million in a garage. A search warrant was also served at Wright’s home on Potomac Avenue, where authorities found 46 pounds of cocaine under the hood of a car in the driveway.