DRUG CASES Local police agencies receive DEA money
The funds came from drug investigations in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
MINERAL RIDGE -- A small portion of millions seized during Operation Trifecta, a nationwide effort that brought down a Mexican drug lord, has found its way into the hands of local cops.
Douglas Lamplugh, Drug Enforcement Administration agent-in-charge in Youngstown, distributed checks Wednesday that ranged from $782 to $53,407 at Theodore's Banquet Center on North Canfield-Niles Road.
Several local police agencies are members of the DEA task force.
Money seized in three drug-related cases was shared with the 11 local law enforcement agencies. The total, $243,892, also included disbursements to five police departments in the Columbus-Dayton area.
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 as part of the Operation Trifecta investigation. In July 2003, the case resulted in 240 arrests across the United States and in Mexico.
Warren received a check for $28,921.
Youngstown Police Chief Robert E. Bush Jr., who accepted $53,407, said he has "more than enough need for the money." He said his department, as most others, has a tight budget and the infusion of seized drug money can be used to replace outdated equipment or for training.
Bush credited investigative work done by Detective Sgt. Tom Parry in a marijuana case from 2003 for the DEA check.
Lamplugh said the case involved a marijuana operation that originated in Geauga County and distributed throughout northeast Ohio. He said an undercover officer posing as a marijuana seller was able to infiltrate the group.
Arrests were made after a buyer showed up at a truck stop in Hubbard with roughly $250,000 to buy 300 pounds of marijuana, Lamplugh said. Distribution of the cash seizure was split between local members of the DEA task force, which includes Youngstown.
Lamplugh said a third cash seizure involved a cocaine case in Liberty in 2004. He didn't have specifics of the case immediately available.
Beaver Police Chief Carl N. Frost said his department may use the $18,515 forfeiture money to remodel its dispatch center. Boardman Police Chief Jeff Patterson said he'll put his department's $18,515 in a rainy day fund to pay for whatever emergency may crop up.
Linda H. Barr, an assistant U.S. attorney, represented U.S. Attorney Gregory A. White at the check disbursement. She called local law enforcement agencies a "great asset."