MAHONING VALLEY Squad targets armed dealers
The Warren police chief said the city doesn't have enough staff to assign a full-time officer to the ATF task force.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- It's not good news for drug traffickers who carry guns when they practice their trade.
The local offices of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation are teaming up with officers from Youngstown and Niles police departments to create the Armed Criminal Enforcement Squad, also known as ACES.
"The whole mission of this task force is to reduce armed violent crime in the Mahoning and Trumbull County area," said Frank D'Alesio of ATF. "We will also be working with the Mahoning and Trumbull County drug task forces."
ACES will target those offenders who sell drugs and carry firearms.
"We can get these criminals off the street and get them longer prison sentences," D'Alesio said.
"What we have found out so far is there are a lot of criminals out there getting arrested, getting slaps on the wrists and getting back out on the streets quickly," he continued.
"We want to catch these people that are carrying weapons and selling drugs. If we find someone carrying a machine gun and trafficking in drugs, they will be looking at 45 years behind bars."
Not enough people
D'Alesio said ACES, formed last month, consists of seven law-enforcement officers -- two from ATF, two from Youngstown and one each from Mahoning County Sheriff's Department, BCI and Niles.
He said the Warren Police Department was asked to join, but Police Chief John Mandopolous said he was not able to commit officers to the task force.
"We just don't have enough people," Mandopoulos said. "We already have a full-time officer committed to [drug enforcement], and I don't think we have a big enough weapon problem to commit more people to a task force."
D'Alesio said that ACES is another part of ATF's commitment to work in Trumbull County.
ATF agents said in November they would be working closely with Trumbull County officials to crack down on area drug offenders.
The Youngstown ATF office covers 11 counties: Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Portage, Stark, Wayne, Holmes, Tuscarawas, Carroll, Jefferson and Harrison.
ATF enforces federal laws relating to alcohol, tobacco, firearms, explosives and arson.