DAYTON — Police in southwest Ohio say some of the shopping going on at a major retail center isn’t for clothes or appliances.
A recent drug bust at an auto detail shop was the latest in a series of actions near the Dayton Mall, in a suburban area south of Dayton.
Police in the past month have made several arrests of people suspected of selling heroin or cocaine near the mall. A 20-year-old man was fatally shot April 4 at a beverage drive-thru near the mall amid an FBI drug investigation.
“The Dayton Mall area has been a focal point of late,” said Sgt. Mike Brem, head of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and a task force. “But drug trafficking is a problem throughout the whole country.”
Traffic counts show more than 26,000 drivers go through the mall’s main intersection each day, the Dayton Daily News reports. Authorities say the heavily traveled area with many parking lots gives drug dealers opportunities for quick, car-to-car sales.
“In a mall-type environment, you’re going to have a lot of room to move around, to do car-to-car drug sales,” Sergeant Brem said.
Four young men arrested March 27 allegedly were selling heroin to as many as 100 people a day, mostly in parking lots in the area, which is just east of I-75.
The mall’s manager says the drug sales reflect a national issue. The 117-acre mall has 150 surveillance cameras.
“The problem is everywhere,” said Dave Duebber, the manager. “If they think it’s not, they’ve got their head in the sand.”
Resident Amanda Littrell of nearby West Carrollton said the drug activity is concerning, especially for her and others with children. “I’m relieved that some people have been caught, but I know there’s a lot more out there,” she said.
Sergeant Brem said so far, the drug sales appear to be from a variety of operations. Investigators will determine whether any of them are linked.
Mr. Duebber thinks the series of arrests will send drug dealers to a new location.
“They’re going to start thinking twice about it,” he said. “They’ll pack up and move to a different area.”