Former Columbus gang leader not surprised MS-13 could be headed to Pike County

Former Columbus gang leader Sean Stevenson said MS-13 could seek out Pike County because the gang sees it as an untouched area. (WSYX/WTTE)

An ex-gang leader who served time behind bars and is now trying to end the violence in Columbus, believes he knows why an international criminal gang could be targeting Southern Ohio.

"This is considered an untouched area," said former Columbus gang member Sean Stevenson, as he talked about why folks in Pike County are now being warned about two gangs that could be in the area this weekend to take out believed snitches and sell heavily laced heroin.

Monday Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader sent out an alert to the community:

“MS-13 an International Criminal Gang and/or Konvicted Family gang members, are allegedly coming into Pike County. They are possibly planning on ‘taking out’ believed snitches and spreading ‘Hotshots’ of heavily-laced heroin into the area that could cause an extremely large amount of overdoses in Pike and surrounding counties.”

Konvicted Family is an Ohio prison gang, and MS-13 is a notorious Mexican gang known for drug and human smuggling.

Stevenson says Southern Ohio is a typical location for MS-13 to locate.

"They normally go where they can set up and operate comfortable without people interfering and getting involved in their business," said Stevenson.

In the warning the Sheriff said the threat was detected by “very limited intelligence” that deputies gathered “in recent drug-related investigations across the area in the past weeks.”

Reader says the gangs may be selling a mix known as "hot shots", a heavily laced heroin that can cause overdoses.

Columbus Police and Fire officials say they have not seen this type of drug in the city.

Authorities have been watching MS-13 in Columbus for nearly a decade.

In 2009, more than a dozen members were arrested during a federal sweep in North Columbus.

"They are bad," said Natalia Caldera, who grew up in Chihuahua Mexico before moving to Columbus and has vivid memories of MS-13 violence in her hometown.

"There were bodies in the Canal. stuff like that, it was pretty bad," said Caldera.

Columbus Police declined to talk about their gang initiatives because they don't want to put their strategies out into the streets.

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