Although two U.S. attorneys and a federal agent are being honored by the Justice Department for their prosecution of the LSP gang in federal court, may we suggest that recognition should be given to many more individuals.
Attys. Robert F. Corts and Daniel J. Riedl will receive the Director’s Award for Superior Service by a United States Attorney; John Smerglia, an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, will get the United States Attorney’s Award for Distinguished Public Service.
The three recipients have earned the accolades — and the appreciation of the city of Youngtown, in particular, and the Mahoning Valley, in general. As a result of the prosecution of the LSP criminal organization, 22 members were convicted of gang-related crimes, including racketeering and drug trafficking. Two leaders of the gang were sentenced to 65 and 37 years in prison, respectively.
The dismantling of one of the most powerful gangs in the region was the result of a lot of hard work by local and federal law enforcement officials. Corts, Riedl and Smerglia would undoubtedly agree with that assessment. After all, without countless hours spent on the streets, gathering information and building the cases against the gang members, the prosecutors would not have been able to secure the convictions.
There was a 42-count federal indictment of 23 members of the LSP Street Gang on Youngstown’s South Side. The charges included carrying illegal firearms and theft. The United States Attorney’s Office used the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to prosecute the accused.
Following the LSP roundup, Youngstown police, in partnership with state and federal law enforcement agencies, conducted two raids to break up a criminal enterprise that U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach of the Northern District of Ohio characterized as an international drug ring.
An individual from Mexico headed the ring and arranged for heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines 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 this year, a year-long investigation by the city of Warren, state and federal law enforcement agencies of a major drug operation with roots in Detroit resulted in almost 100 arrests and the seizure of more than 150 firearms. Heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine with a street value of more than $1 million were confiscated.
As Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said of the Warren operation, 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.”
It should be clear by now that the crime spree that has caused so much pain and suffering in the two urban centers in the Valley requires a huge commitment of law enforcement manpower and resources.
All the participants in the drive to dismantle the gangs deserve to be recognized.