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Police raid wrong house in Struthers in drug sweep



Published: Fri, July 8, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.

Cops mistakenly converge on wrong home in Struthers

By John W. Goodwin Jr.

jgoodwin@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A case of mistaken identity nearly roped a Struthers family into one of the largest drug sweeps in the area this year.

Doreen Fox of Lewis Street, Struthers, was home with her 30-year-old son Wednesday morning preparing to leave for a doctor’s appointment when she noticed movement outside the home. She opened the front door to a flood of local and federal police.

“They [police] were in my front yard, my rear yard; they had my house surrounded. When I opened the door to see what was going on, there was an officer with a gun out not far from my stomach,” she said. “I am still shaking.”

Officers informed Doreen they were looking for her 24-year-old son, David Fox, in connection with a large-scale heroin operation.

The problem is David Fox, at least the David Fox from Lewis Street, is a third-year law student in Cincinnati and working for a government agency in Columbus during the summer.

Local, state and federal agents did fan out across the area Wednesday in search of 62 people wanted in a major heroin ring that has operated around the Youngstown area for several years.

By the end of the day, 32 people had been taken into custody — 16 on state charges and 16 facing federal charges. Police and federal agents still are searching for the remaining 30 suspected drug dealers.

Doreen Fox said she had to make it clear to officers standing at her door that her son, David Fox, is not one of those drug dealers. Her other son called David in Columbus to inform him, and David thought his older brother was joking.

David Fox said he was stunned to find this was no joke; police were actually looking to arrest him for illegal drug sales — even going through the family garden in search of illegal substances.

“They were kind of just rummaging around. Then they went into the garden and were kind of just sniffing around. We are growing parsley, basil and other stuff, but they were really interested in the basil,” she said.

Doreen said the officers had a current picture of her son and did not at first believe there was a case of mistaken identity. She said after much discussion, the officers realized the mistake and were apologetic to the family. The police were at the house about 15 minutes and at no point were rude or disrespectful, she added.

Doreen still wants to know how such a mis- take could happen. She is grateful her son was not home at the time of the incident because she fears he would have been taken into custody without time to explain.

Bob Balzano, resident agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, acknowledged that a mistake in the identity of one suspected drug dealer led police to the Fox household, but he stressed that officers did not forcefully enter or search the home. He confirmed officers apologized to the family for the mistake.

“The two men showed the same name and some other particulars, but the agents did what they were supposed to do — asking questions, following up and then moving on,” Balzano said.

Balzano said officers did catch up with the wanted David Fox. The Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department website does show a David Fox currently in the county jail.

The federal indictment for which the series of raids took place centers on the distribution network of a group of dealers mainly on the East Side of Youngstown.

According to the federal indictment, Luis Angel Martinez, 33, of Youngstown would obtain heroin from sources in Youngstown, New York City and Buffalo, N.Y., for distribution in Youngstown. The indictment says Martinez would then distribute the drugs to lower-level dealers for distribution in the area.

The indictment says the lower-level dealers also would take turns staffing a cellphone used by Martinez for drug distribution.

David Fox does not appear in the federal indictment, but there are 37 people facing state charges and their names have not yet been released. Those 37 people are facing charges ranging from possession of drugs to trafficking in heroin.


Comments

1Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

The culture takes a direct hit in The Valley . A mild snafu slightly impedes the capture of the cultured David Fox who now is in custody . All's well that ends well .

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2Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

"Doreen still wants to know how such a mis- take could happen."

Doreen, like you never ever made a mistake before.

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3Harley_Guy(117 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

What better cover story would you want - third-year law student in Cincinnati and working for a government agency in Columbus during the summer - I know, wrong David Fox ... just saying...

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4UNCOMMONSENSE(384 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Life..this is not just a simple mistake. She has a right to question how this happened. Maybe if the gun was pointed at you, then you would feel that it was more then a simple mistake.

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5MLC75(564 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

It's a good thing the Struthers Police were polite and didn't over react.It could have been a bad situation.Good Job Struthers Police,for using common sense.

The Fox family does have a right to know,how this mix up happened.

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6Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

uncommonsense

"Life..this is not just a simple mistake."

Then what is it? Sounds like a mistake to me.

"She has a right to question how this happened."

Sounds logical to me...
“The two men showed the same name and some other particulars, but the agents did what they were supposed to do — asking questions, following up and then moving on,” Balzano said.

"Maybe if the gun was pointed at you, then you would feel that it was more then a simple mistake."

Nah, had a gun pointed at me before, matter of fact couple of times, it is what it is. Over and done with, move on. Thankful no one was hurt and they weren't a burglar(s) pointing at her instead.

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7HalfFull(3 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

oh my gosh this is funny, yet tragic. I got on the site to follow up with all the drug raid news....and I see this. They really need to make sure they are at the right place before barging into some ladies house! I am not surprised by this story- this whole county can just be.....ridiculous. It wasn't burglars- it was the Struthers police. I know it's there job and all but they have been setting up this sting it seems like for a while now, I feel like they should kinda know who's who and "get to know" the people they are trying to arrest instead of just having this "were police, it was a mistake, oh well" mentality.

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8computer_rick(137 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

@lifes2short

You are whack-o...

I would be a heck of a lot more pissed than this lady if the P.D. (lots'o'police) showed up at my door, and tramped through MY basil. She is the one who comes across as being very kind and nice.

People make mistakes? Sure, like if I say I don't want ketsup on my burger, but I get it anyway?. That would be a "mistake". A group of Feds and local P.D. who in about two minutes were going to blow her door in if she hadn't walked outside just in time to see them. All she got was a gun pointed at her? (Yeah, I'm sure only one gun, duh...)

No problem you say, because you have had guns pointed at you? And that is not a problem? To quote you "it is what it is..."?!?!? What it IS is a FRIGGIN GUN pointed at whoever!

(and remember, I am thinking DEA, which in this case DOES NOT stand for "Drunk Every Afternoon". A FEDERAL agency with FEDERAL computer data bases. If it was Struthers PD, I could see them just Googling "David Fox" "Oh look! Struthers!". I would hate to think that the Feds use Google to find suspects. Well, O.K., they do, but I kind of hope not in this kind of operation.)

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9Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Soon tha boys in tha hood will be changin their names to throw off tha police . Howzabout if they take on tha mayors name ?

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10ytownescapee(20 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

MLC75 - I promise you that if the Struthers Police were the ones who made the decisions things would have turned out different. The do not have any sense, take my word for it.

Lifes2Short - If you or I make that kind of "mistake" we would be in jail. I do not know the circumstances of you having a gun pointed at you because it could have been a friend or family member with an unloaded gun for all I know (and think). Anybody with a brain in their head would be terrified if they walked out their door and had guns pointed at them. Believe me, there were more than one and had she not walked out her door I would bet my last dollar they would have busted in without knocking (like the law says they have to) and pointed a gun at her while they ripped her home apart looking for the WRONG man. I wonder how Lifes2Short would have felt if this scenario would have happened to her as it has many times in Mahoning County, Struthers included.

The whole County should be cleaned out of the crooked politicians (I don't see them getting DUI's (they just get driven home). If it's the Feds that investigate them though there is no hope of that happening after reading about this incident. It seems they are at least incompetent and at most are fully aware, as are the majority of people who live in Mahoning County, there are so many illegal things going on with the police, lawyers, etc. It is almost like it is accepted and nothing can be done about it. It is sad and probably will go on and on.

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11Nunya(1356 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Hold on now,..

Where I'm pleased to find strong support for enforcement. I'm a bit unsettled by how it's channeled and expressed. See no matter who, what or why mistakes and or errors are infringements. Where in cases like this they're traumatic and can be deadly,.. in most unfortunate cases.

Hence, where at times there are mistakes made in practically every agency of operable performance. But in a operation like that this kind of mixup is bizarre,.. to say the least.

See this is no jay walking enforcement where a dispatcher eating donuts sends a patrol person out to a wrong location. Or where a minimally informed cop just pursues any individual that just so happens to bear the like name of a suspect. This is a multi agency operation where precision and accuracy has to be stressed and exercised from the initialization onset.

Where in process information is collected, suspects verified and intel distributed upon planning and order execution. Which is so vital that it isn't to be glad handled or non verified before actionable order to deploy on the location is given. It's extremely sensitive in nature, those weapons are real, the ammo is live, the pursuit is channeled and the provisional authorization of deadly force is given.

In this instance it apparently went so inexplicably awry. To such a degree that agents went sent to the wrong location based upon mere name. Which is so counterproductive and unintentionally dangerous. That internally there absolutely has to be a thorough review. As to refine operations and avert such from happening again to anyone else.

Where for various reasons sensitive in nature. The lady can't be given much more in explanation than informing her it was a sincere apologetic mistake. So it's without question she's not only due an apology. To include if any personal property was damaged via the incident. Being no fault of her own she's to be duly reimbursed.

It's an instance where just like no matter who we are or what we're tasked to do, none of us are absolutely immune to error. Although we also all have rights and families and and they're not to be infringed upon. However, when and or if they are mistakenly breached. If sensibilities are mutually extended we not only limit such errors. But we make amends in respectable accord as to not alienate nor victimize anyone of innocence.

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12Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

computerrick

"You are whack-o..."

Wow, big words, I'm impressed.

"A group of Feds and local P.D. who in about two minutes were going to blow her door in if she hadn't walked outside just in time to see them. All she got was a gun pointed at her? (Yeah, I'm sure only one gun, duh...) "

It's OVER and done with. Comprehend? A mistake was made, you move on. Once again, Thank God there is no one hurt in it. But it's OLD news now. What more you going to do.....uh, nothing. You can B@#ch all you want but it'll happen again and again. A shame but it will, won't be the last time....

""People make mistakes? Sure, like if I say I don't want ketsup on my burger, but I get it anyway?. That would be a "mistake".""

Then what would you call it Einstein? They did it on purpose? Not a mistake? smh at stupidity.

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13Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

nunya

http://forum.planet-rugby.com/index.p...

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14Nunya(1356 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

@ Lifes2Short

Listen,..

You're having difficulty here because you're making no sense. To include nothing you're contending is neither within tolerance nor implored nor orchestrated in any form of policy.

Where in contrast I'm sure the sensibilities I've offered as unbiased understanding. Will suffice as enlightenment that doesn't require any combative choosing of sides. That would neither goad, implore nor promote. Any pitting of one against the other as it's not right, needed, necessary nor desired.

See there's manner and diplomacy required when errors occur. Hence no matter who, how or why mistakes are made. In response nobody wants to hear " So what ",.. and they don't have to either.

See that's not only all these citizens wanted and needed to know. But, it's sensible, they're right, you're wrong,.. and it's the truth.

See those in the profession of enforcement don't desire law abiding members in the community. To neither view, identity nor depict enforcement as problematic nor their enemies,.. in fact it's the direct opposite.

Where expressed as what could be distinguished as your combative support. Doesn't bode well for neither, relations, understanding nor the mutual respect and appreciation that's sought and required.

Problem is as individual to individual and my not being in anyway affiliated with Vindy. Myself as a by chance independent voice when time permits. I just don't have the time to be present to re-address everything you contend to people.

Now at the risk of your not appreciating my differing perspective. I'll ask can you sensibly respect and or at least understand that rationale?

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15Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

nunya
"See there's manner and diplomacy required when errors occur. Hence no matter who, how or why mistakes are made. In response nobody wants to hear " So what ",.. and they don't have to either."

So, what do you propose they do? I'm sure they learned from the mistake (and one does when one makes a mistake). And I'm sure it'll happen again. So what diplomacy can you make? Give them money? Pay off there mortgage? Help in changing there names? Sue the cops? The city? What?
All I'm saying, it happened, a apology was issued and no one got hurt and that should be it. What more can be done? Explain....

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16Nunya(1356 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

@ Lifes2Short

Asked, answered and duly stated,.. and again.

QUOTE - In this instance it apparently went so inexplicably awry. To such a degree that agents went sent to the wrong location based upon mere name. Which is so counterproductive and unintentionally dangerous. That internally there absolutely has to be a thorough review. As to refine operations and avert such from happening again to anyone else.

Where for various reasons sensitive in nature. The lady can't be given much more in explanation than informing her it was a sincere apologetic mistake. So it's without question she's not only due an apology. To include if any personal property was damaged via the incident. Being no fault of her own she's to be duly reimbursed. - End QUOTE.

Granted there were some proverbial pot stirring in regard to pro and con posturing being expressed here. For which in not singling you out in any malicious manner. Your brand of support was sending the wrong signal.

One where your " So What " posture of support. Wasn't accurately nor effectively placing protective forces in the right light nor the situation in proper perspective.

See where by required posture, presence and approach of agents. The ordeal was no doubt traumatic for the citizen of the locality error of dispatch,.. and both citizens and agents realize and respect that.

Hence if damage were inflicted it's to be duly and respectfully expressed and presented. Which I'm sure sensible resolve between parties can be achieved.

That's what I've stated, I'm saying in manner of clarity. And it's to be noted that neither contends, depicts, pits nor renders. Either nor neither party as indefensible nor of any inexcusable infringement.

Where in contrast be it intentional or unintentional. Your expression was unquestionably presented in a insensitive " So What " manner.

For which isn't the purpose, policy nor projection of protective forces. For which I only interjected to provide some clarity to the populous in making that known.

See support is one thing but to express it in a manner where law abiding citizen's are to be in anyway infringed upon or alienated.

Isn't accurate, right, correct or appreciated by anyone. Nor is it the message that neither community or protective forces can effectively function by.

That said I'm confident any discrepancy in regards to this matter. Will be addressed and reasonably resolved in a manner that all can and will understand, respect and appreciate.

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17Nunya(1356 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

TO INCLUDE:

The unfortunate reality is you were correct in stating such an incident likely will happen again.

But it's to be explained that such an error isn't intentionally sought. But just as unfortunately such could and will likely occur again.

Where the desire and goal is to avert it, but with working in a realm where human error isn't totally avoidable.

As evidenced by having actually retrieved an actual photo and information on mere " by name " reference. That prompted targeting and pursuing someone that wasn't criminally applicable at all,.. that's an indefensible error.

This in a mutual / collective way this is a teachable moment. One where we set a tone of manner, recognition, understanding, and respect. That can aid and assist in reviewing how the error occurred. As well providing insight for others as when and if it ever happens to someone else,.. don't take offense just give credence to rational resolve.

See protective forces aren't the " Bad Guys " and yet neither are law abiding citizens either. So I'd venture to say I highly doubt the agency nor resident will be unreasonable.

I'm quiet extensive here because just like at times there are improper acts committed by citizens. Unfortunately in a imperfect world there are cops and or agents that's acted in improper, inappropriate and indefensible manner.

For which we're to appreciate that neither is the case here and I'll refuse to allow citizen or members of enforcement to be maligned without justifiable cause.

Which it's a clarified impartiality of mutual support. That has to be expressed, implored, exercised and understood for effectively compliant and functional adherence.

Thus nowhere in that does a " So What " inference. Indefensibly apply as actionable process, procedure or pomp and circumstance.

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