Columbus police: 5 men ensnared in drug bust

Columbus police arrested five men Friday on various drugs and weapons charges after an undercover operation.

Investigators searched an apartment in the 2300 block of Fifth Avenue and allegedly found more than 15 grams of crack cocaine, trace amounts of marijuana and two handguns.

Jailed in the bust were Andre Williams, 28, Tyrone Thomas, 24, Akeem Pace, 19, Johnny Bell, 24, and Jarvis Bell, 18. They pleaded not guilty today to several felony charges, including possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Pace and Johnny Bell also were charged as convicted felons in possession of a firearm.

Police said they had probable cause to search the apartment because they conducted a "controlled purchase" of narcotics, and had been watching the residence.

Once inside the apartment, police said they found Jarvis Bell in a backroom with a loaded revolver in his pocket. They also found a Glock 23 .40-caliber pistol lying on a TV stand.

Police determined that neither of the firearms was stolen, but each suspect was charged with possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime because the Glock allegedly was in plain view and lying within reach of the men.

Public defender Charles Lykins asked Recorder's Court Judge Cynthia Maisano to dismiss the charges against all of the defendants except Jarvis Bell, who sought to take responsibility for the drugs and weapons. Lykins also pointed out that the crack cocaine was not in plain view, suggesting some of the defendants may not have known it was in the apartment. Williams, for his part, said he had just been visiting with friends.

But Maisano said she wasn't inclined to dismiss the long list of charges against the other four men. She found probable cause in all of the cases and bound them to Superior Court.