By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- Two people from Massachusetts and a man from New York were arrested Sunday after township police and Mahoning Valley Drug Task Force officers found nearly $100,000 worth of suspected cocaine.
Officers discovered a taped bundle of the suspected narcotics in a compartment under a rear seat of the car the suspects were in. Two children traveled with the group.
David Allen, task force commander, said the drugs, weighing nearly 2.2 pounds, were coming from New York City and headed for Youngstown.
Arrests: Sgt. Jeff Solic, Deputy Jeff Allen and Officer Robert Patton, all task force members, arrested a 37-year-old Bronx, N.Y., man; a 30-year-old Springfield, Mass., man; and a 30-year-old Springfield, Mass., woman. All are at the Mahoning County Jail without bond. They face arraignments later today on charges of trafficking in cocaine.
The woman's two children, ages 9 and 10, were placed in the custody of the Mahoning County Children Services.
Solic said the bust will help cut down the availability of drugs at local bars during the upcoming holiday weekend. He also said it benefits the area to intercept the suspected cocaine when it is in its bulk form before it gets separated into hundreds of doses.
Allen said the bundle is smaller than the ones usually confiscated on their way from New York.
Drug market: He said it's a sign that the sealing of U.S. borders since Sept. 11 is starting to have an effect on the local drug market.
Police reports show that the group drove into Youngstown in a gold Nissan Maxima and met a Youngstown man driving a blue Oldsmobile. There, the New York man joined the Youngstown man and the cars entered Austintown. They were stopped on Mahoning Avenue near Wickliffe Circle at about 12:40 a.m. The drugs were discovered in the Maxima.
Solic said it is unclear whether the Youngstown man will be charged.