LIMA — A man arrested following a series of pre-dawn raids conducted in Lima by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies some 20 months ago was sentenced Tuesday in Allen County Common Pleas Court.
The June 14, 2018, citywide raids led to the arrest of more than a dozen Lima men described by federal agents and local authorities to be “large-quantity” dealers of cocaine and crack cocaine. Among those arrested that morning was Eric Watkins, of Lima.
Watkins, 46, accepted a negotiated deal with prosecutors Tuesday when he pleaded guilty to a first-degree felony count of trafficking in cocaine and third-degree felony charges of having a weapon under disability and possession of cocaine. In exchange for those pleas, prosecutors dismissed a second-degree felony count of trafficking in cocaine and a first-degree felony count of possession of cocaine that included a specification labeling Watkins as a Major Drug Offender.
Judge Terri Kohlrieser embraced a stipulated agreement that called for a four-year prison sentence for Watkins, along with the forfeiture of a .45 caliber handgun and nearly $4,800 in cash to the West Central Ohio Task Force. Watkins was given credit for 602 days he has served in the Allen County jail.
Addressing the judge before sentence was passed, Watkins bemoaned the drug culture in Lima that he helped propagate.
“Drugs are rampant in this community; they’re tearing this community down. And I don’t want to be a part of it any more,” Watkins said. “I own up to my mistakes, and I just gotta commit to being a better person.”
Watkins was the target of a secret grand jury indictment returned on June 13, 2018, one day before federal, state and local law enforcement officials conducted pre-dawn raids at several residences in Lima during what was described as the culmination of a “long term, multi-jurisdictional investigation” into large-volume dealers of cocaine and crack cocaine.