Latest drug ring bust reveals the extent of the problem
When the 10 to 20 additional accused in two drug trafficking drug rings that have operated in Youngstown for at least a decade are identified through federal indictments, we certainly hope that the suburban dealers who made their purchases of powder cocaine in the city are on the list.
For too long, residents of Boardman, Poland, Austintown and Canfield have referred to the illegal drug trade as "Youngstown's problem." And for too long, suburbanites who buy the cocaine for their own use have avoided the public spotlight while Youngstown residents who are largely addicted to the cheaper crack cocaine end up in news stories.
No one who read the front page story in Thursday's Vindicator could have missed the significance of the statement by Lt. David Allen, commander of the Mahoning Valley Drug Task Force: "This was such a big case, I couldn't break it down, but I would say that the majority of the cocaine went to the suburbs. It always does."
It is noteworthy that Allen is a veteran of the Austintown Police Department.
Drug activity: If most of the cocaine in this area in the past decade has ended up in the suburbs, why haven't the dealers and users been identified in numbers that reflect the high level of drug use?
Last week, 12 of 15 men and women allegedly connected to the two drug rings were arrested on the strength of a federal indictment. All 12 are from Youngstown. Three others live in New York.
Thus, we hope that subsequent indictments reflect what is going on in the suburbs.
We are reminded of a case in 1996 in Poland in which Douglas M. Jones Jr. was shot to death by a police officer. While no criminal charges were filed against the officer after two state agencies concluded that he acted properly, we are still intrigued by what was discovered in Jones' car that night.
In the white Trans Am, police found 15.6 ounces of marijuana, $2,633 in cash, rolling papers, a pager, a plastic bowl with hand-rolled cigarettes, marijuana seeds and evidence that his clientele were home-grown products of Poland.
Who were Jones' clients? What telephone numbers were on his pager? These and other questions remain unanswered.
If Allen is right about the cocaine trade, then it is incumbent upon all law enforcement agencies to conduct drug sweeps in Boardman, Poland, Austintown and Canfield with the same regularity and intensity as those conducted in the city.
Profits: Why? Because without the money from those communities, the drug business in Youngstown would soon collapse. An ounce of cocaine sells for $900 to $1,100. Rocks of crack go for $20. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the source of the profits.