Tri-Village News

Anonymous caller leads police to drug-trafficking suspects


A tip from an anonymous caller Monday morning, Jan. 14, led to the arrest of two Grandview-area men who were wanted on felony drug-trafficking charges.

Austin M. Schmalz, 30, of 1313 Arlington Ave., and Brandon L. Burton, 30, of 854 Oxley Road were taken into custody by Columbus police.

The caller had notified Grandview Heights police that the two men could be found at a residence on Woodruff Avenue in Columbus.

Grandview officers responded, but there was no answer at the door, police reports said.

"There wasn't a foot chase per se, but (Schmalz and Burton) were walking away quickly from the scene" and Columbus police arrested them near the residence, Grandview Police Chief David Wood said.

The pair were turned over to Grandview police Jan. 14 and taken to the Franklin County jail. Their arraignment was scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 15.

The drug-trafficking charges resulted from a Dec. 26 incident in which police stopped a car Schmalz and Burton were in after the vehicle ran a red light at Dublin Road and West Fifth Avenue.

In making contact with the men, officers identified them as known drug users.

The Columbus K-9 unit was called to the scene to search the vehicle and 22.3 grams of black-tar heroin and drug-trafficking paraphernalia were recovered.

"That's enough heroin to make about 230 doses," Wood said. "Black-tar heroin is a nasty, nasty drug and I'm really happy we were able to get these guys and recover the drugs."

The men also were in possession of $1,400 in cash, he said.

One of the men was arrested and charged with aggravated drug trafficking Dec. 26 and later released after posting bond, Wood said. The drug-trafficking charges against the second man were filed later.

Both men failed to appear for scheduled court dates, and on Jan. 10, Central Ohio Crime Stoppers selected Schmalz and Burton as their "weekly most wanted" suspects.

The tip Grandview police received resulted from a resident recognizing the men from the Crime Stoppers report, Wood said.

"It's another case of how the community can help us catch the bad guys," he said. "We really rely on the public's assistance. It's often either that or a criminal being dumb that leads us to catching them."

The investigation into the case is continuing, Wood said.