17 to plead to drug, gun crimes in central Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Federal prosecutors say 17 members of an alleged gang with 2-decade-old roots in Columbus are preparing to plead guilty to drug dealing, illegal weapons possession and money laundering charges.

Prosecutors say the gang, dating to the 1990s, distributed drugs including crack cocaine throughout Ohio and in other states, and recruited individuals from elsewhere to join the gang's operations in central Ohio.

Many of the 22 defendants charged late last year are relatives of original members of the Short North Posse, including sons and daughters.

Plea hearings are set to begin March 24 in Columbus.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Columbus says charges are still pending against three of the 22 and two are fugitives, including Jermonte Fletcher, who prosecutors call the gang's ringleader.