YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Two days after they were all indicted, thirty drug suspects appeared in court Friday morning, one by one taking their turns in front of a magistrate.
For more than an hour and a half, the suspects all entered similar pleas, most of them have been in jail since their arrest. Prosecutors said all the suspects are drug addicts.
“As you can see it was from all walks of life,” Mahoning County Assistant Prosecutor Marty Desmond said. “There was white, there was black, there was Hispanic. You had people from Youngstown, Canfield, Poland, every suburb.”
Ironically, most of them have little to support themselves and their addictions, which prosecutors say creates a ripple effect throughout the community.
“That’s why you see the spike in burglaries and robberies and thefts,” Desmond said. “That’s where they’re getting their money from.”
What may make these cases different is the way the suspects were caught. Prosecutors said many arraigned this morning are charged with “possession of criminal tools” after being caught with wiretaps using their cell phones to buy drugs.
“We’re gonna use whatever the law allows us to use to combat this problem,” Desmond said.
Earlier this week, federal authorities indicated they would be focusing on those actually supplying the heroin being used on the streets. However, local prosecutors tell me their goal is to get those creating the demand for drugs the help they need.
“If we can get them treatment, get them away from using the drugs, not only are we reducing the cash flow to the drug dealers, but we’re also reducing the crimes that come with drug use,” Desmond said.