The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 12, 2014

23 charged in Ashtabula County drug sweep

TAG nabs 20, 3 remain at large

JEFFERSON — Twenty individuals were arrested early Friday morning as part of a sweep, coordinated by the TAG Law Enforcement Task Force, following a 16-month undercover investigation into drug trafficking.

An Ashtabula County Grand Jury secretly indicted 17 individuals, from the Geneva area, Wednesday, on drug trafficking charges. Another five individuals, from the Geneva area, were charged by Ashtabula County Prosecutor Nick Iarocci’s Office with felony drug trafficking offenses in Western County Court, Iarocci said.

The grand jury also indicted Sarah Allen, of 262 Jefferson St., Jefferson, on nine counts of deception to obtain dangerous drugs.

Twenty of the twenty-three individuals charged were arrested early Friday morning by approximately 60 local, state and federal law enforcement officials.

Nestor Angulo, Billy J. Beeler III, and Carl Testerman Jr. are still at large and sought by law enforcement.

The investigation into the drug trafficking in the Geneva area dates back, in some cases, to January 2013, Iarocci said.

“It goes without saying that the heroin and prescription drug epidemic runs rampant in Ashtabula County, as it does throughout the entire country, particularly in light of the seven drug overdose-related deaths that occurred in the last quarter of 2013 alone,” he said. “This operation and sweep is intended to send a clear message to those dealing and trafficking drugs in Ashtabula County that law enforcement officials know who you are and are watching you, and my office will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law if you are ultimately indicted or charged.”

The 20 individuals who were arrested were booked into the Ashtabula County Jail and arraigned Friday in Ashtabula County Common Pleas Judge Alfred Mackey’s courtroom.

Iarocci said most of the individuals were released on a personal recognizance bond.

Ashtabula County Sheriff William Johnson said once the individuals go through the system and receive jail time, room will be made in the jail for them.

Capt. Jeff Orr, of TAG, said the operation would not have been possible without the collaborative effort and partnership that went on with the numerous law enforcement agencies.

“We go out every day to reduce drug trafficking in Ashtabula County and the Task Force realizes we can’t do it alone,” he said. “It’s important for us to partner with the agencies that we did in this operation.”

Geneva Police Chief Dan Dudik said the citizens of Geneva played a big role in this as well. Residents sent letters and e-mails notifying the police department of drug activity around the community.

“The people out there know who they are,” he said. “We really appreciate it.”

Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Dennis Sweet said BCI is glad to partner with law enforcement officials in Ashtabula County.

“It’s impressive Ashtabula County has the resources they have and they’ve committed the one’s they have to stamping out this drug problem,” he said.

Sweet also encouraged county residents to call law enforcement agencies to report any drug activity.

The agencies involved in Friday’s sweep include TAG, BCI, Geneva Police Department, which collectively spearheaded the investigation and operation, the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department and the Ashtabula County Prosecutor’s Office.

Johnson said it’s important to realize all of the agencies involved in the sweep working together is making an impact on reducing the amount of heroin and drug activity in the county.

“People need to understand that these are long investigations and because of these long investigations, we come up with a big sweep,” he said. “The goal is to make Ashtabula County safer.”

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