By Ed Runyan
The crime sweep was dubbed ‘Operation Reclamation.’
WARREN — Eight people, some from Detroit, were arrested on drug-trafficking charges Wednesday when 112 law enforcement officers with 12 police departments used search warrants on four homes in Warren.
Sheriff Tom Altiere described it as the biggest drug raid in Trumbull County history.
Officers seized more than 600 doses of heroin and 100 Ecstacy pills valued at about $18,000, plus firearms and other items.
The massive sweep lasted most of the day and was a welcome sight to Southwest Warren activist Rhonda Bennett, who spent much of the day watching dozens of police vehicles swirl around her neighborhood. Officers carrying guns and wearing lead vests stopped at various locations.
“This is overdue,” said Bennett, who finished second in the race for 6th Ward council member in the Nov. 3 election. She said she believes the sweep might help restore hope for residents.
“When people lose hope, they just don’t care. That gives the criminal element free range,” she said.
A news release from the Trumbull Ashtabula Group Law Enforcement Task Force said the sweep, called “Operation Reclamation,” involved officers from the Trumbull sheriff’s office, police departments in Warren, Niles and Howland, agents from the county adult probation department, adult parole authority, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Marshals Office.
Altiere said TAG investigators had been building cases against individuals in various parts of the city, and it made sense to raid all the four targeted locations at the same time, 9 a.m.
“It worked out great,” Altiere said. “We’re just letting everyone know we’re not going to tolerate [drug dealing] anymore.” He said he doesn’t believe a drug sweep of this size was ever undertaken in Trumbull County.
Officers in unmarked cars were inside a house at 1633 Jefferson St. S.W. arresting four drug dealers when a young man from Roots-town knocked on the door and asked officers if he could buy heroin, said Ernest Cook, chief deputy. The man provided useful information and was allowed to leave without being arrested, Cook said.
Warren Police Chief Tim Bowers said 20 of his officers and two police dogs participated in the sweep, which he hopes will demonstrate to drug dealers that financial constraints within his department won’t hamper efforts to stop their activities.
“We have a drug problem like every other inner city in the country,” Bowers said. “This is a message that there are no boundaries. The city may be experiencing some economic downturn, but that doesn’t mean law enforcement stops. The law enforcement community can come together at any time and any place.”
He added that an additional deterrent is: “It’s hard to deal dope when you’re in jail.”
Bowers said he believes economic problems nationwide are causing drug problems to escalate and that an increase in heroin coming into Warren is a concern.
Warren, which laid off 20 police officers a year ago because of budget deficits fueled by local plant closings, has had the highest unemployment rate for cities in Ohio nine of the last 10 months.
“You know what is the best solution to crime? Put people to work,” Bowers said.
In addition to the raid on the Jefferson Street home, officers raided two apartments above a restaurant at 817 Elm Road N.E. across from Warren G. Harding High School; 970 Hunter St. N.W. and 223 Vermont Ave., N.W.
Two people were charged with drug trafficking at the Elm Road location, Donald P. Miner, 53, and Derrick D. Peete, 19, both originally from Detroit.
Charged with drug trafficking on Jefferson Street were Jay B. Kurey, 55, and Drew L. Reid, 57, who both lived there; Diane A. Post, 23, of Brierbrook Court; and David L. Reid, 61, of Bane Street.
Arrested for drug trafficking at a location on North Park Avenue were Reginald E. Morris, 19, of Michigan, and Andre L. Furlow, 33, of Detroit.