Man Who Exposed East Liverpool Officer to Fentanyl Sentenced

EAST LIVERPOOL — A man who assaulted a police officer by exposing him to fentanyl will spend the next six and one-half years in prison after being sentenced Monday in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.

According to information from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Justin Buckel, 25, of East Liverpool entered a guilty plea Monday to 23 charges before being sentenced. The charges against Buckel included:

∫ engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity;

∫ three courts of aggravated trafficking in drugs;

∫ two courts of trafficking in heroin;

∫ two counts of trafficking in cocaine;

∫ 13 counts of aggravated possession of drugs;

∫ tampering with evidence;

∫ assault on a peace officer.

The assault and tampering with evidence charges relate to a May 2017 incident in which Buckel exposed East Liverpool Police Officer Chris Green to fentanyl during a traffic stop conducted as part of “Operation Big Oak.” Green overdosed but survived the exposure after being revived with four doses of naloxone.

“Fentanyl is so dangerous that even the slightest exposure can be deadly, but thankfully in this case naloxone was close at hand,” DeWine said.

“We are serious about holding drug traffickers responsible for bringing this poison into our neighborhoods.”

The other charges are also associated with the “Big Oak” investigation conducted by the Columbiana County Drug Task Force last year.

Buckel was one of 100 people indicted in November as a result of the investigation that uncovered a large-scale fentanyl, carfentanil, heroin, and cocaine trafficking ring.

According to investigators, those accused of trafficking drugs as part of the drug trafficking organization are allegedly responsible for funneling the equivalent of approximately 1 million potentially fatal doses of carfentanil and approximately 350,000 potentially fatal doses of fentanyl into Columbiana County alone.