CLEVELAND-- It’s a bad day to be a drug dealer in northeast Ohio. 250 law enforcement officers spread out across the north coast on Wednesday to arrest 92 people indicted for their roles in bringing heroin to greater Cleveland. All but 20 were apprehended after the filing of a 203-count federal indictment.
The group is accused of using the mail or sometimes driving heroin to the north coast from Chicago and Atlanta as part of a conspiracy that began in September of 2011 and continued through this month.
"They have caused significant damage and chaos and harm in the neighborhoods,” said Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, “And that is why I'm so happy and appreciative of the work that has been done here by law enforcement."
Stephen Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland office of the FBI credited Mayor Jackson and Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath with their leadership in spearheading the effort to bring so many law enforcement agencies together.
“This wide-ranging investigation is another example of the comprehensive strategy by local, state and federal law enforcement to target, dismantle and eliminate the most significant criminal enterprises in our region,” said Anthony.
The accused allegedly unleashed the worst kind of violence possible on the community, including home invasions, shootings and assaults.
According to federal authorities, some of the accused would attempt to grow their businesses by targeting other drug dealers. Potential victims were allegedly identified by the expensive jewelry they wore or the cars they drove.
"They robbed people. They burglarized homes, all as tools of their trade," said Steven Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, “And they left a wake of suffering behind them."
"Let today's raids and indictments--and the trials and convictions to come--be a message to those who want to capitalize on addiction: There's a prison cell built. The floor is painted. The stainless steel toilet is installed, and it's waiting for you," said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty.
Chief McGrath said, “Cuyahoga County is on track this year to set record-breaking numbers for heroin deaths.”
The two-year investigation was conducted by the Northern Ohio Law Enforcement Task Force, which included investigators from the FBI, the Cuyahoga County Metropolitan Housing Authority, the IRS, RTA, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, and police departments from Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Euclid, Westlake and Shaker Heights.