DRUG MONEY Law agencies sharing in DEA-seized bounty
Departments rewarded for assistance in drug probes.
MINERAL RIDGE -- A small portion of millions of dollars seized during a nationwide drug investigation that brought down a Mexican drug lord is making its way into the hands of local authorities.
Douglas E. Lamplugh, the Drug Enforcement Administration agent-in-charge in Youngstown, distributed checks Wednesday that ranged from $550 to $70,728 to 12 local police agencies that are members of the DEA task force.
The money was seized in a wide-ranging investigation called Operation Trifecta.
The U.S. Justice Department allows 80 percent of assets seized to be shared with local and state law enforcement agencies that participate in DEA investigations.
Lamplugh said the Warren Police Department, for example, had officers assigned for months to the Operation Trifecta investigation. In July 2003, the case resulted in 240 arrests across the U.S. and in Mexico.
Warren police received a check for $70,728. Last month, the department also received a DEA check for $28,921.
"The money is still coming in," Lamplugh said.
Canfield Police Chief David Blystone, who accepted a check for $15,932, said his department may spend the money to buy digital cameras for its cruisers. The vehicles now have VHS-type cameras, he said.
Blystone said Canfield shares in DEA forfeitures because of the efforts of Detective Andy Bodzak, who works drug cases.
In the past, Canfield spent drug-forfeiture money to buy its police dog, Zach, and a K-9 outfitted cruiser. The money also paid for training for Zach's handler, Patrolman Mike Sroka.
Other check recipients:
* Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, $23,896.
* Poland Village Police Department, $31,789.
* Youngstown Police Department, $20,276.
* Beaver Township Police Department, $20,276.
* Boardman Police Department, $23,896.
* Salem Police Department, $31,789.
* Ohio State Highway Patrol, $13,276.
* Southwest Mercer County Regional Police, $550.
* Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, $550.
* Sharon Police Department, $550.