Jurors in Muskingum County convicted a Zanesville man on drug trafficking charges during a trial in Judge Kelly Cottrill's court this week.

Ron Welch
Muskingum County Prosecutor


Friday, September 23, 2022

Jurors convict Zanesville man on major drug offender charges

Jurors in Muskingum County convicted a Zanesville man on drug trafficking charges during a trial in Judge Kelly Cottrill’s court this week.  After two days of testimony, jurors found John Thompkins, who goes by the name “Tommy,” guilty of possessing and trafficking cocaine in a school zone with a major drug offender specification, tampering with evidence for dropping the cocaine out of his car and possessing methamphetamine and oxycodone with firearm and forfeiture specifications. Judge Cottrill, who separately heard the charges related to Thompkins possessing firearms after a drug trafficking conviction, found him guilty on three counts.

Throughout the trial, jurors heard evidence from law enforcement about how the Zanesville / Muskingum County Drug Unit began an investigation against Thompkins in early March following complaints of drug dealing at 819 Dryden Ave. The jurors were not informed that Thompkins had been released from a prison half-way house two weeks prior.

Detectives explained numerous techniques to the jury which were used to catch Thompkins in the act. Ultimately, the jurors heard that on June 1, 2022, drug unit detectives knew that the man who supplied Thompkins with his drugs had just brought in a large supply. They planned to conduct a traffic stop on Thompkins after he left his supplier’s house at 835 Locust Ave.

Thompkins showed up as expected, and the officers stopped him, but they were surprised not to find the drugs they believed he had just purchased. After a search, the jurors heard that the deputies released Thompkins moments before discovering he had dropped the drugs out of his window 30 feet prior to being stopped. The drugs ended up being 138 grams of cocaine in very distinctive packaging.

When deputies went to find Thompkins, they didn’t have to go far, as he had circled back to pick up his dropped drugs.

Later, jurors heard that the Zanesville / Muskingum County Drug Unit detectives searched that house on Locust Avenue, which is within 1,000 feet of Zanesville Middle School, discovering more than 750 grams of cocaine, more than four pounds of methamphetamine and a large quantity of other drugs. Relevant to Thompkins’ case, the cocaine found on Locust was also distinctively packaged.

Detectives continued their investigation, searching the residence on Dryden Avenue, where they discovered 58 grams of methamphetamine, three guns and oxycodone.

At sentencing, Thompkins will be forced to forfeit all the cash he was found to possess, as well as the vehicle he used to conduct his drug business. He faces 35 years of imprisonment at his future sentencing date. The offer he decided not to take before trial was for 14 years.

Assistant Prosecutor John Litle, who handled the case, remarked that “it is fun to present a case like this to a jury here in our county. The jurors had a job to do, but they also got to learn a little bit about the great work our local investigators do on a daily basis. This case was so straightforward, and so well investigated, that it really was a ‘show-off’ moment for our drug unit.”

Dep. Cody Kelly was the courtroom designee during the trial, and Det. Matt Wilhite and Dep. Dustin Prouty also testified.

Certain facts were omitted from this release to protect the rights of other defendants who have not yet proceeded to trial.

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Jurors convict Zanesville man on major drug offender charges