Lima man in alleged drug ring attempts to suppress evidence

LIMA — A Lima man accused of funding and taking part in a drug trafficking ring filed to suppress evidence against him at a Friday morning hearing.

Michael Liles, 44, is charged with aggravated funding of drug trafficking with a major drug offender specification, a felony of the first degree; cocaine trafficking with a major drug offender specification and a specification for forfeiture of a gun in a drug case, a first-degree felony; cocaine possession with the same specifications, a first-degree felony; having weapons while under disability, a third-degree felony; heroin possession, a felony of the fifth degree; and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony.

At the hearing, Liles’ lawyer, Dustin Blake, stated his case for suppressing five pieces of evidence from being used against Liles. These include the search of Liles’ home on the 4700 block of Allentown Road; his arrest on Nov. 8; the search of his sister’s home on the 500 block of Orena Avenue; the search of a United States Postal Service Package that was found to contain one kilogram of illegal drugs and the search of two cell phones found on Liles. Blake said all of this evidence was obtained unconstitutionally.

In witness testimony, Investigator Aaron Montgomery with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who works with the Lima Police Department and multiple area drug task forces, said in June 2021 he and other agents began an investigation into the home on the 500 block of Orena Avenue after Postal Inspector Marc Kudley told him the residence had been receiving suspicious packages.

Packages were delivered to other homes on the 500 block of Orena Avenue, all believed to contain large amounts of illegal drugs.

Montgomery said his agency placed a pole camera in the area and performed physical surveillance to watch the homes, from which they came to believe Liles was involved in the removal of the packages.

Montgomery said Kudley tracked another package’s delivery to the same home and asked him to seize it. Montgomery had a K-9 unit inspect the package, which they found to contain drugs. Once Montgomery obtained a warrant and opened the package, he tested the substance, which indicated it was related to fentanyl.

Once this was discovered, Montgomery said Kudley set up another delivery and used tracking data to learn that Liles used the USPS website to track it about 70 times. Montgomery’s team saw Liles and his brother walk by the house multiple times in what appeared to be an effort to see if the package was there after Kudley pushed a notification that it was out for delivery.

Liles’ brother removed the package and Liles left the area before being arrested in the 600 block of South Scott Street.

Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed gave Liles’ lawyer until Oct. 14 to submit a written closing argument, to which the state will have two weeks after the submission to enter its own closing statement. Reed said he will then schedule a pre-trial hearing where the motions to suppress will be ruled upon.