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2 Columbus police officers arrested on federal drug charges

Columbus Police cruiser vehicle
Adora Namigadde

Two Columbus police officers were arrested Thursday on federal drug charges.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, John Castillo, 31, and Joel Mefford, 34, are accused of stealing multiple kilograms of cocaine and giving the drugs to others to sell.

Castillo, of Grove City, and Mefford, of London, appeared in federal court Thursday afternoon.

Mefford's indictment states that he was investigating a drug crime and unlawfully gained access to a detached garage belonging to the subject of the investigation. Officials say Mefford, without a warrant, found two kilograms of cocaine and then seized one of them and left the other to be found later during the execution of a search warrant.

Authorities also claim that Mefford stole 20 kilograms of cocaine from the police property room and replaced it with fake cocaine. Mefford faces an additional charge of money laundering for allegedly depositing $72,000 in cash from cocaine sales into his personal bank account.

Castillo's indictment states he took about 10 kilograms of cocaine from a home and did not turn it into evidence.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther released the following statement after Castillo and Mefford were arrested:

“The alleged selfish actions of these two officers jeopardized the safety of the community, all in an effort to line their own pockets. I am disgusted. We have made great strides in rebuilding trust between police and the community, and we will not allow the actions of a few to deter our progress. CPD is fully cooperating, and the officers will be held accountable.“

If convicted, both Castillo and Mefford face at least 10 years behind bars and could be sentenced to life in prison.

Debbie Holmes began her career in broadcasting in Columbus after graduating from The Ohio State University. She left the Buckeye state to pursue a career in television news and worked as a reporter and anchor in Moline, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee.