FOSTORIA - A drug organization believed to have been bringing "substantial" amounts of crack cocaine into Fostoria from Toledo was dismantled yesterday when 15 people from Fostoria and Toledo were arrested or served with charges in their respective prison cells.
Seven individuals were picked up during raids that began about 5 a.m., while eight others already were behind bars on other charges.
The Seneca County Drug Task Force is looking for six others who were among the 21 defendants named in indictments containing 150 felony charges.
The indictments were returned by a Seneca County grand jury that met for two days over the last two weeks, county Prosecutor Ken Egbert, Jr., said.
The charges included 69 counts of trafficking in crack cocaine, 17 counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, nine counts of participating in a criminal gang, and seven counts of possession of cocaine.
Tiffin police Detective Charles Boyer, who coordinates the Metrich Enforcement Unit of the drug task force, said the investigation began two years ago with some street-level drug sellers, but grew to involve a larger criminal organization "leading into gangs coming out of Toledo."
Investigators believe the arrests will have a greater impact on Fostoria because those accused of transporting the drugs from Toledo as well as those selling the crack on the street were arrested, he said.
While it won't stop drug activity in Fostoria, Detective Boyer said he's convinced it will make a difference.
"Hopefully, what it does is change the perception of people coming down from Toledo and selling crack in the streets of Fostoria," he said.
Mr. Egbert concurred.
"Certainly, we intend to send a message - particularly to persons who come into Seneca County from areas such as Toledo and poison the community - that we're going to go after them," he said.
The task force intends to seek forfeiture of more than $40,000 in suspected drug proceeds that were seized during the investigation.
Arrested yesterday in Fostoria were Luwana Engler, 41; Kim Martin, 49, and Robert Connor, 35, all of Fostoria; Aaron Hoskins, 24; Derrick Noles, 23; Shane McDuffey, 36, and Taneel Lee, 25, all of Toledo.
Authorities were still searching for Ronald Johnson, Jr., 21; Anthony McDuffey, 19; James Burris, 35, and Darrion Stewart, 27, all of Toledo, and Leslee Delarosa, 20, and James Stateler, 48, both of Fostoria.
Also named in the indictments but already incarcerated were: Alexa Johnson, 20, of Fostoria, and Toledoans Michael Thomas, 24; Christopher Kincade, 29; John White, 37; William Lamar Jackson, 26; Gregory Green, 27, and Marquette Dean, 22.
Detective Boyer said one other individual, whose name was not being released for his own protection, also was indicted but is cooperating with investigators.