Largest drug trafficking indictment in Columbiana County's histo - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Largest drug trafficking indictment in Columbiana County's history

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SALEM, Ohio -

It's the largest criminal indictment ever, brought against a drug trafficking organization in Columbiana County.

Nine people are arrested as part of a 51-count indictment against a heroin and cocaine distribution network. A network that operated in and around the Salem area for at least the last 3 years.

The suspects include:

Tiona Jones

Antonio Torres

Malcolm Gilford

Marvin Harsch

Selena Pruitt

Susan Jones

Vincent McGary

Tina Taylor

Bradley Deatley

Among those arrested an 83-year-old woman, and the majority of those charged are from Warren. Two are already serving prison time for other crimes and are being brought back to the area from the Ohio Bureau of Prisons.

Salem Police Chief J.T. Panezott tells 21 News, "We had people that were being intimidated, users that were being assaulted because they owed money to the organization. We had robberies occurring. We actually had other drug dealers from other locations coming in that were being intimidated by this organization and forced out. Not that that's a bad thing. But there was that fear that somebody was going to die."

So why did this group of alleged drug dealers pick Salem?

"It's not as dangerous to come here. They're not getting shot at by rival drug dealers in Youngstown and Warren. They're coming down for the soul purpose of making money," Chief Panezott said.

Chief Assistant Prosecutor John Gamble says, " Salem specifically, and Columbiana County generally is a destination source for drugs. They're brought here by people from all over. We have New Jersey, organizations from Columbus, Lorain and Cleveland. So we're a destination source and one of the other reasons for their interest here is that quite frankly they can get a better price here for their drugs as well. It's a supply and demand issue. The demand here is great, and the supply is not so great and that drives the price up."

Prosecutors and police say while they have no hard and fast proof, they believe some overdoses and drug deaths are related to this drug distribution network. They also say that while Salem often gets a bad rap for it's drug problems, they're no worse than anywhere else. They're just proactive about taking drug dealers off the streets.

"This is a significant set-back to persons who are intending to bring drugs into the city of Salem and make money on the backs and the lives of the citizens here," Chief Assistant Prosecutor Gamble said.

The majority of the group if convicted could spend 11 years in prison just for being part of a criminal enterprise.

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