Columbus officers accused in drug scheme received high marks in personnel files

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Two Columbus Division of Police officers accused of stealing and selling cocaine while in the line of duty were exemplary employees, according to personnel files released this week.

Joel Mefford, 34, of London, and John Castillo, 31, of Grove City, were arrested last week. Indictments against the two include accusations of stealing from evidence rooms and investigation scenes, as well as passing off the narcotics to another individual to be sold.

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According to the personnel files, Mefford was sworn in as a patrol officer in June 2011, transferring to the Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) in June 2021. Throughout his performance reviews between 2020 and 2023, Mefford received either exceeds or meets expectations marks across the board.

The indictment against him alleges Mefford stole cocaine from the police property room and from two separate crime scenes between February and April of 2020. In each case, he allegedly handed off the drugs to another person to sell. He was indicted in February of 2020.

Castillo joined the department in June of 2019 and also gained high marks in performance reviews. He was a member of the department’s drug cartel unit as of June 2021.

The indictment against Castillo states that in June 2021, he allegedly took approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine from a home during an investigation but didn’t turn the drugs in to be logged as evidence before allegedly planting two of the kilos at the scene and taking the rest to be sold by another person.

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Both defendants 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 additionally charged with money laundering and two counts of possessing with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.

Officials believe the Castillo case is tied to another narcotics case involving Columbus police officers.

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