Area police joining forces to get guns, drugs off streets

STEUBENVILLE – A joint effort by several law enforcement agencies during the past week led to guns and drugs being taken off the street, but officials said it is still up to the residents to provide necessary help.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Investigative Unit, City Police and the Jefferson County sheriff’s department combined forces last Friday and Monday, concentrating on crime prevention in the city.

Capt. Cory Davies, patrol Cambridge District commander, said the combined efforts this past week were the first of several planned throughout the summer months.

Mayor Domenick Mucci said he promised city residents a safe summer, especially during the festivals.

Mucci and Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla, during a press conference Thursday at the City Building, urged residents to come forward with information about drug dealings and people armed with guns on the street.

Abdalla said it is “heartbreaking” that black “children” are killing other black “children.”

“Moms and grandmas, tell your kids to put the guns down. Your child may be next to be riddled with bullet holes,” Abdalla said.

He noted young men and women who are members of gangs are on the radar of City Police, the sheriff’s department and the county’s drug task force.

“This is just the beginning of seeing the presence of law enforcement throughout the rest of the year,” the sheriff said.

Police Chief William McCafferty said the core of the problem is the large number of young people in the area who are addicted to drugs. He urged family and friends to get help for the addicts.

“If there is no one here to buy drugs, then the drug dealers won’t be here,” he said.

John Campbell, agent in charge, Ohio Investigative Unit Canton District Office, spoke about a raid early last Friday on Club 106 on South Street. He said agents were able to purchase alcohol at the club, which doesn’t have a liquor license and was ordered by a Jefferson County Common Pleas Court judge not to be open for parties.

Agents, with the help of the patrol’s special response team, found six handguns, two of which were found to be stolen, and miscellaneous narcotics, including cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, prescription pills and marijuana.

Campbell said two people have been charged with liquor law violations and additional felony charges of having a weapon as a convicted felon and drug trafficking are pending.

County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin said the joint operation by state and local law enforcement is a wonderful example of what law enforcement can do when working together. She said law enforcement coming together can attack the problem on all angles.

“This community will overcome all of this. We will rid the city of people bringing drugs and guns into the city,” Hanlin said.

Davies said the joint effort resulted in troopers riding in cruisers with city officers and sheriff’s deputies. He said the local law enforcement knows the city and its residents and it was a good education for troopers, who will be able to come back into town later armed with the knowledge of the streets and problem areas.

During the recent operation, 660 vehicles were stopped. Fifteen people were arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence. Davies said there were 10 felony arrests, seven guns were seized and a large amount of illegal drugs and prescription pills was confiscated. He said 50 pounds of stolen copper was recovered.