Drugs seized in East Palestine raids

EAST PALESTINE – Wednesday was not a good day for drug users or dealers in the village.

As part of an organized effort, police and the Columbiana County Drug Task Force searched homes on East Main, Rebecca and Oak streets and uncovered illegal and stolen drugs, and drug paraphernalia.

Police Chief Kevin Dickey said the drugs seized were marijuana, synthetic marijuana and prescription medication. The synthetic marijuana is also called K-2, or spice.

The officers also recovered stolen property. Dickey did not disclose what the property was, but said police are still trying to track down the owner.

He also said charges are expected to be filed and until then did not wish to release any names or exact addresses at this time, as the investigation is ongoing.

Those charged will be facing fourth or fifth degree felonies, he said.

The chief also said in a press release issued Thursday the collaboration with the drug task force was especially helpful with the sweep.

The department was able to put officer Matthew Elser on the force part-time this year through $10,000 made available by county commissioners.

The money was from tax revenue the county received through Ohio’s first casinos and will pay the wages and benefits of Elser’s participation for one year, or until the money is no longer available.

East Palestine was not the only municipality offered the money and is not the only municipality participating. Others across the county also accepted the money commissioners offered to boost participation on the task force.

The village had an officer on the force off and on over the years since its inception 21 years ago, but in 2008 opted to discontinue participation as a result of severe budgeting difficulties.

“Both agencies have been able to work closely together since East Palestine was able to resume participation with the task force … Having an officer assigned to the task force has proven to be an invaluable component of the ongoing enforcement efforts against all illegal drug activity in East Palestine,” Dickey said.

The collaboration specifically benefits the local department through the additional manpower and specialized equipment available through the county force, he added.

“Columbiana County Drug Task Force Director Brian McLaughlin and myself commend the officers and agents involved in this sweep. It is through their hard work, determined efforts and commitment to combating illegal drugs that we are able, and will continue, to take the fight on illicit drug use, sales or distribution to the doorstep of those involved in such activity,” he said.

He also thanked the village residents who provided information regarding suspected drug activity, and encouraged those tips to continue. Information can be provided by calling the police department at 330-426-4341 or the task force at 330-424-0309.

Toney, the department’s K9 officer, was also used Wednesday.