Authorities release information on those suspected in drug raids

Mariah Phillips

ASHTABULA — Authorities identified the two suspects arrested last week during a drug sweep at five city residences, where police believed drug trafficking was taking place.

The drug busts occurred at 922 W. 37th St., 1712 Norman Ave., 1013 W. 38th St., 5717 Woodman Ave. No. 27, and 1119 Columbus Ave. 

Naquan Jackson, 24, of Youngstown, and Mariah Phillips, 26, of Ashtabula, were arrested on outstanding warrants, according to court records.

Ten more people are expected to be indicted as a result of the operation, conducted jointly by Ashtabula police, the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office, Ashtabula County Heroin Overdose Task Force, Geneva Police Department, Conneaut Police Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

"A majority the people found in the drug houses during the sweep were from Cuyahoga County, which is a major source of the drugs being sold here," Ashtabula City Solicitor Michael Franklin said, speaking on behalf of APD and TAG. "Most of the information that led to the execution of these warrants came from local citizen tips, underscoring the fact that Ashtabula is not a safe place for dealers."

Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell praised the officers and agencies involved in the sweep.

"I look forward to us continuing the team effort," he said. 

The sweep was the second this summer, and more are planned, Franklin said.

"In fact, all law enforcement organizations are cooperating to concentrate as many resources as are necessary to arrest and imprison the people involved in illegal narcotics trafficking in Ashtabula," he said. "All locations are well-known to law enforcement for significant drug trafficking activity."

The drugs seized included about 28 grams of heroin, 24 grams of cocaine, 4 grams of crystal methamphetamine and 418 grams of marijuana. Additionally, a handgun and about $3,400 in cash were confiscated, according to police reports.

Between Jan. 1 and July 31, 206 overdose incidents involving 179 different people were reported in Ashtabula County, 28 of which resulted in death. By comparison, there were a total of 15 traffic fatalities in the county in all of 2016. 

"It is well understood by the people in this area that drug dealers are equivalent to murderers," Franklin said. "Accordingly, drug dealers are going to be investigated and prosecuted with the same seriousness as murderers."

Participation by the FBI, DEA and BATF brings the potential for federal prosecutions, which typically result in longer prison sentences. Aggressive seizures of dealers' assets are also planned, he said.

Those with information concerning suspect drug activity in their neighborhoods can call either the Ashtabula Police Tip Line at (440) 992-7126, or the Trumbull-Ashtabula Group Drug Task Force Tip Line at (330) 675-7890. The identities of people leaving tips will be protected.

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