The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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September 22, 2011

Police arrest 60 in Lake and Ashtabula counties

They gathered before sunrise to prepare for one of the largest drug roundups in Ashtabula and Lake counties.

With about 30 agencies and 110 law enforcement officers responding, Geneva and Madison Township police wrapped up a year-long investigation. More than 130 arrest warrants were issued Wednesday in which 79 people were targeted. From Perry to Conneaut, 60 people were ultimately arrested and arraigned for their involvement with methamphetamine and other crimes.

“We’re very pleased that we picked up as many as we did,” said Madison Township Detective Dan Boerner, adding that there were no injuries reported.

Officers gathered in Madison Township at 5:15 a.m. Wednesday and implemented multiple raids at 6:25 a.m. With arrest subjects listed in order of importance, officers fled to their assigned sites in teams of multiple jurisdictions.

“This effort was exceptional,” said Geneva Police Chief Daniel Dudik. “Everyone has really come together and it worked well. There have been no injuries and no resistance.”

One live meth lab and remnants of another were located during the arrests.

By 8:30 a.m., Dudik said about 80 percent of the targets had been arrested as about four van loads of those in custody left Geneva City Jail after preprocessing, DNA samples, fingerprints and photographs.

Boerner said they were taken to Painesville Municipal Court and arraigned before Judge Michael Cicconetti. Some were jailed in Lake County, others were released on bond or personal recognizance. However, all have preliminary hearings at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 29.

Dudik said this type of investigation is unprecedented as far as a joint effort with other agencies.

“We wanted to do something in our community; with layoffs and cutbacks in law enforcement, and the economic condition in our country, Madison and Geneva just started to work together over the course of months and months,” Dudik said. “And we built up to the point where we said, ‘Okay, now we need help.’ That’s when we called everyone this past month to help us — and the response was tremendous. Some departments sent nearly all their officers today.”

Dudik was quick to commend all participating agencies, especially noting three officers who were instrumental in investigating for the past year: Geneva Capt. Greg Wiley, Madison Detective Tim Doyle and Lt. Tim Brown.

Police said the initial investigation focused on illegal purchases of pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient to produce methamphetamine. But the investigation went well beyond illegal drug production.

Police found there are direct ties to the heroin trade, burglaries, theft and violent crimes. The 79 targeted people have previous convictions of 204 felonies and 162 misdemeanors, such as rape, theft, weapons and drugs to disorderly conduct, domestic violence and resisting arrest.

“This methamphetamine and heroin use is definitely related to the other criminal activity we have going on,” said Madison Township Police Chief Len DelCalzo. “The robberies, vehicle thefts, all of it, burglaries from homes — it’s all related.”

Dudik said these small investigations of crimes and drugs began to grow, and a number of crimes have been solved due to Wednesday’s operation.

“Each person we brought in would say it’s about the meth and heroin. They said all the break-ins and thefts are being done by meth and heroin users,” Dudik said. “They tell us that one flat screen TV buys 1.3 grams of heroin. It’s out of control.”

Because police are responsible to combat crimes, Dudik said their responsibility and sincere care for the communities are motivation for this investigation.

“We want something done about these problems,” the chief said. “And we will not accept what is going on.”

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