Mahoning Valley inhospitable to local, national drug pushers

A year-long investigation by city of Warren, state and federal law enforcement agencies of a major drug operation with roots in Detroit has resulted in almost 100 arrests and the seizure of more than 150 firearms. In addition, heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine were confiscated, with a street value of more than $1 million.

By any measure, it was a highly successful operation, one that will send a clear message to drug cartels throughout the country: Stay out of the Mahoning Valley.

“These cases have taken an arsenal off the streets of Warren and cut off several pipelines of heroin, cocaine and other illegal drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettlebach of the Northern District of Ohio.

Federal officials had conducted wiretaps on the phones of many of the individual who have been charged, and a fake business was established in the city through which contact was made with people dealing in illegal weapons.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the individuals charged “brought more than just drugs and guns into the Youngstown area. Their operation brought more violent crime into our neighborhoods as well.”

Close to 200 law enforcement agents, including members of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Trumbull Ashtabula Group Law Enforcement Task Force, fanned out across the city of Warren Wednesday to make the arrests.

Mayor Doug Franklin called the operation “really a great day” in the city because it promises the removal of drugs, weapons and criminals that will reduce crime and violence.

Franklin isn’t wrong in his assessment.

Two years ago, Youngstown police, in partnership with state and federal law enforcement agencies, conducted two raids to break up a criminal enterprise that Dettlebach characterized as an international drug ring. An individual from Mexico headed the ring and arranged for heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine into Youngstown.

The drugs were shipped from San Diego to New York City and then were brought to local dealers.

Twenty-eight people were indicted on drug conspiracy charges. Earlier, 23 members of the LSP street gang were arrested following a two-year investigation.

Summer programs

The joint local, state and federal crime-fighting initiative continued in the summer of 2011 and last year.

As a result, violent crime is down in Youngstown. Homicide, robbery, aggravated assault and burglary have dropped more than 63 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period last year, and 55 percent compared to the first quarter of 2011.

It’s all about keeping the pressure on criminals with saturation patrols, raids and community policing.

It is clear that the two largest communities in the Mahoning Valley are in a war and need the cooperation of the federal and state law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Justice Department and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

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