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Ohio HIDTA

Mission Statement: The mission of the Ohio HIDTA is to reduce drug distribution and money laundering organizations, reduce the impact of illicit drugs and the associated violent crimes in the Ohio HIDTA region, and undermine the development of violent gangs that traffic in controlled substances. This will be accomplished through the coordination and sharing of intelligence and unified law enforcement efforts.

General Information:
Year of Designation: 1999
Geographic Area of Responsibility:
Ohio: Cuyahoga, Lucas, Mahoning, Stark and Summit counties.
Contact: (216) 739–3500

The Ohio HIDTA was designated on June 15, 1999, and is located in a five-county region in Northern Ohio where access to illicit narcotics has become a lucrative business and complex task for law enforcement. Northern Ohio consists of approximately 40 counties, encompassing approximately 18,000 square miles of landmass and approximately 6.5 million residents. The Ohio HIDTA region consists of five metropolitan cities, Toledo, Cleveland, Akron, Canton and Youngstown. Each of these cities has lost much of their industrial base since the 1970's. Of these metropolitan areas, Toledo and Cleveland are major international seaports processing in excess of 28,000,000 tons of bulk and dry cargo each year. The Port of Cleveland receives between 120-165 foreign vessels annually.

The primary drug threat to the Ohio HIDTA region has been, and continues to be, cocaine in both powder and crack form. Many drug trafficking organizations exist and operate in Northern Ohio with no one group as the "major player." The most significant drug trafficking organizations in this region consist of Jamaican and Hispanic (Dominicans, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans) traffickers. Outlaw motorcycle clubs, other ethnic-based groups and street gangs are also involved in drug trafficking activity in this region. Typical methods of distribution include the use of well-developed interstate highways (I-80, I-90, I-75, I-77, and I-71) and the transport of drugs by travelers on commercial airline flights.

Besides the trafficking in cocaine, Northern Ohio contends with the growing threat of heroin and the beginning stages of a methamphetamine problem. Heroin trafficking and availability is rapidly reaching the current level of cocaine abuse. This is evident in Northeast Ohio with heroin seizures up 200% along with heroin-related deaths that are up 109%, according to a recent DAWN (Drug Abuse Warning Network) report. Marijuana is ubiquitous in Ohio and constitutes the most commonly available and abused drug in this region. The so-called "designer-drugs" or "club drugs" (i.e., GHB, Ecstasy) have become popular among young adults and juveniles in the area and pose a threat to users who often view the use of these drugs as relatively harmless and benign.

Strategy Abstract:

The overall investigative strategy of the Ohio HIDTA consists of eight multi-agency metropolitan task forces representing the geographic territory of the five-county region. Each task force will develop its own strategies, based upon a regional Threat Assessment, and structure the task force for achieving the primary goal of the Ohio HIDTA. This will be accomplished through the development of Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) quality investigations. Each task force will submit annual proposals for multi-agency initiatives designed to focus Ohio HIDTA resources against major narcotics and money laundering organizations. An Initiatives/Budget Subcommittee, in conjunction with the lead OCDETF attorney for the district, will review all task force investigations to ensure the appropriate use of Ohio HIDTA resources, and that cases are submitted for Ohio HIDTA and OCDETF designation. The Ohio HIDTA Executive Committee, which is made up of 8 federal and 8 local/state law enforcement executives, through subcommittees, will coordinate the integration and synchronization of efforts to dismantle organizations, eliminate unnecessary duplication, and improve the systematic sharing of intelligence. The Ohio HIDTA Executive Committee will monitor the implementation of this strategy to ensure the efforts of the Ohio HIDTA will produce the desired impact and further determine whether the distribution of resources is consistent with the overall Ohio HIDTA strategy.

Investigative Support Center:

The Ohio HIDTA Investigative Support Center (ISC) is expected to be partially operational in spring 2001, and when completed, through the use of numerous commercial and criminal/law enforcement databases, the ISC will provide event deconfliction, case/subject deconfliction, post-seizure analysis, telephone toll, link analysis, intelligence profiles, Title II support, charts/graphs, trend and pattern analysis, as well as financial/analytical case support, and training. All interdiction operations and investigations will be coordinated with the ISC. The Ohio HIDTA ISC will also coordinate with local and federal intelligence networks, as well as other HIDTAs to ensure connectivity. The ISC will broker information to the metropolitan and interdiction task forces and, where appropriate, to non-participating law enforcement agencies, in accordance with federal regulations.

Another function of the ISC will be to conduct surveys, determine training needs, plan and implement training, seminars and courses. All training will be coordinated through the National HIDTA Assistance Center (NHAC) to maximize and coordinate training opportunities to all Ohio HIDTA task force personnel.

Initiatives that were approved to implement the 2000 Ohio HIDTA Strategy include:

  1. Management and Coordination—An initiative that provides direction and guidance to ensure that the policies and directives of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Ohio HIDTA Executive Committee are implemented. This initiative provides the necessary administrative support for all other initiatives and related budgets to ensure that the Ohio HIDTA strategy and initiatives are effectively addressing the regional threat.
  2. Investigative Support Center—This initiative is a dual federal-state/local led collocated center to facilitate the attacking of, and the dismantling of major drug trafficking organizations, related money laundering and violent crime organizations associated with drug trafficking in the Ohio HIDTA area. The center will collect, analyze and broker information in support of the Ohio HIDTA investigative initiatives.
  3. Caribbean/Gang Drug Task Force—A multi-agency cooperative effort designed to undermine the impact of organized drug trafficking activity through the identification, investigation and prosecution of the leaders of such organizations with a special emphasis on dismantling those groups exhibiting violence and conspiratorial relationships as a means of furthering their illegal activities.
  4. DEA Youngstown Task Force—The mission of this task force is to disrupt the flow of illicit drugs in and around Mahoning Valley and the Ohio HIDTA region. This program targets mid- and upper-level traffickers through the use of controlled purchases, confidential informants and interdiction efforts.
  5. Greater Akron Drug Task Force—The mission of this cooperative effort is to substantially reduce the impact of organized drug trafficking activity in the greater Akron area by combining the resources of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. A special investigative emphasis will be placed on targeting drug organizations whose multi-layered, complex, conspirator relationships have resisted traditional investigative and prosecutive efforts against their membership in the past.
  6. Mahoning Valley Drug Task Force—The mission of the Mahoning Valley Drug Task Force is to reduce violent crime associated with all levels of drug trafficking by disrupting and dismantling high and mid-level drug trafficking organizations operating in the greater Mahoning Valley. A myriad of covert and overt investigative techniques will be used to accomplish these goals. The principal goals are to arrest and convict key players in drug trafficking organizations and to seize their illicit assets.
  7. Northeast Ohio Interdiction Task Force—This multi-agency task force supports the overall mission of the Ohio HIDTA by reducing drug trafficking, related violent crimes and money laundering in the five-county area. This will be accomplished through the devotion of coordinated resources against the means and individuals utilized to transport controlled substances into the Ohio HIDTA region, and to seize the profits gained by these illicit activities. The task force will continue to target those drug organizations that have the greatest impact in the Northeast Ohio community.
  8. Northwest Ohio HIDTA Task Force—A collocated, cooperative effort within the greater Toledo, Ohio area which seeks to target the major cocaine, heroin and marijuana organizations operating in the region. In conjunction with support from the ISC, this task force will investigate the drug nexus of northwest Ohio and the southeastern and midwest sections of the country. Special emphasis will be placed on the money laundering operations connected with illicit drug enterprises.
  9. Stark County Violent Crimes Task Force—This initiative is a federally led, collocated multi-agency task force brought together with a combined mission of utilizing highly sophisticated techniques, in long-term narcotics investigations to disrupt and dismantle highly entrenched, tight-knit, violent drug trafficking organizations in Stark County, Ohio. This initiative targets the most violent and/or sophisticated drug organizations trafficking in cocaine (powder and crack), marijuana, heroin and crystal methamphetamine.
  10. Toledo Metro Drug Task Force—This multi-agency task force is largely a local and county law enforcement effort with federal support and resources. It focuses on the avenues of importation, distribution and means of exporting proceeds using a wide variety of investigative techniques. All personnel are collocated and are assigned as full-time members of the unit working cooperatively with one another as well as with other sections of the Special Enforcement Division of the Toledo Police Department.

Outcomes:

The value of this HIDTA can already be seen during the first year. The law enforcement agencies that are participating have all embraced an unprecedented spirit of cooperation during this developmental period. Multi-agency collocated task forces have developed their strategies based upon a regional Threat Assessment. For the first time, joint training has occurred and an Investigative Subsystem developed in which an Initiatives/Budget Subcommittee makes recommendations on disbursement of funds, methodically evaluates, reviews, and determines effectiveness of each investigative initiative. The participating agencies are dedicated to the commitment of the HIDTA philosophy.

Participating Agencies:

Federal: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Internal Revenue Service, United States Attorney's Office, United States Customs Service, United States Marshals Service

State: Ohio Adult Parole Authority, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, Ohio National Guard

Local: Akron PD, Alliance PD, Austintown PD, Beaver Township PD, Boardman PD, Canfield PD, Canton PD, Cleveland PD, Cleveland Heights PD, Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority PD, Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office, East Cleveland PD, Euclid PD, Jackson Township PD, Liberty PD, Louisville PD, Lucas County Sheriff's Office, Mahoning County Sheriff's Office, Massillon PD, Monroe County (MI) Sheriff's Office, Northwood PD, Parma PD, Perry Township PD, Perrysburg Township PD, Poland Township PD, Poland Village PD, Regional Transit Authority PD, Shaker Heights PD, Stark County Sheriff's Office, Struther's PD, Summit County Sheriff's Office, Sylvania PD, Toledo PD, Trumbull County Sheriff's Office, Warrensville Heights PD, Wood County Sheriff's Office, Youngstown PD, Youngstown State PD

Information is provided by the Ohio HIDTA

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