Drug raid mop-up continues

WARREN – Day two of “Operation: Little D-Town” got off to a running start early Thursday morning as agents were back on the streets rounding up individuals indicted on various state and federal drug and gun charges.

By the end of the work day, at least 78 of the 97 indicted had been arrested, officials said. Of those, 23 were arraigned Wednesday and another seven Thursday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. All arraigned in the local common pleas court so far have pleaded not guilty.

According to reports, authorities expected on Thursday to serve with indictments an individual who turned himself in to Mahoning County officials and an individual already serving time at the Trumbull Correctional Institution.

Others are expected to turn themselves in to authorities today, officials confirmed.

“We’ll get them all eventually,” Warren police Chief Timothy Bowers said. “They’ll all be brought to justice.”

Officials could not confirm whether the three people alleged to be at the top of three separate conspiracies were in custody yet. Trumbull County Jail staff said none of them had been brought into the jail since the sweep early Thursday morning.

Valentino Thomas Sr., 41, of Detroit, Jamie Hancock, 27, Dayton, and Marcus Hemmingway, 36, Warren, are each facing multi-count federal indictments.

U.S. v. Valentino Thomas Sr., a 99-count indictment, names Thomas and 20 other people; U.S. v. Jamie Hancock, a 49-count indictment, names Hancock and eight other people; U.S. v. Marcus Hemmingway, a 26-count indictment, names Hemmingway and four other people.

“We realize that this is quite an event for Warren,” said Mike Tobin, a spokesman with the U.S. Attorneys Office. “To have this many indictments concentrated in an area like Warren represents a lot of work and manpower.”

On Wednesday, 19 federal indictments were unsealed charging 55 people with various violations of federal narcotics and weapons charges in Warren and the surrounding area. At the same time, 42 people were charged in state court.

Close to 200 federal and local law enforcement agents swarmed the area Wednesday to round up as many of the suspects as possible. Officials said simultaneous roundups related to the case were taking place in other cities including Detroit, Dayton and Pittsburgh.

Tobin said officials were working on Thursday to track whether any suspects, specifically those facing federal charges, had been arrested elsewhere.

Law enforcement is calling the sweep, which started early Wednesday morning, one of its biggest crime busts in local history. Officials said it is part of a targeted effort to bust the crime pipelines from Detroit to Warren. Officials have attributed many violent crimes over the years to that connection, which they said dates back decades. .

“Most all of the law enforcement officers who were here yesterday were back at 8 a.m. this morning,” Bowers said Thursday. “This is what we call the mop-up, the cleanup, the sweep. All of the work we’ve done in the past year, the investigation, getting the indictments, culminates in rounding these people up. That’s what Warren is seeing right now. I just hope it shows our residents, the people in this community, that we are working hard to fight crime in Warren.”

Bowers said he realizes law enforcement, specifically his department, has been criticized for moving slowly.

“But I believe that in the long run it is better and more productive to take a slower approach, to work to be thorough and see results,” he said.

The indictments came after a yearlong undercover investigation that officials said targeted numerous drug-trafficking organizations in Warren, Youngstown and surrounding areas. Officials called many of the individuals career criminals. Several of them have ties both Warren and Detroit, officials said.

According to the indictments, Thomas and Derrick Peete, 22, also of Detroit and Warren, obtained drugs in Detroit and sold them to Anthony L. Ector, 29, of Warren, to distribute to 18 street dealers, including Thomas’ son, Valentino Thomas Jr., who sold the drugs in various locations in Warren.

Thomas Sr., whose criminal records dates back to the early 1990s, was interviewed by police following the fatal shooting of his brother, Stanley Thomas on Oct. 16, 2011, at Clancy’s Bar. He and his sister, Yolanda Holmes, met with city officials several days later in an attempt to keep Clancy’s open. Investigators said after that shooting they suspected Detroit gangs were involved in the shooting.

Holmes died in a fatal fire in March 2012.

Meanwhile, Peete is already behind bars waiting to stand trial in the Nov. 11 shooting death of Marco Dukes Sr., 32, of Warren. Dukes died in a downtown shootout with Peete, according to police. Dukes’ cousin, Larry Smith, 29, of Warren, was wounded. Peete and Dale Hatch, 25, also from Detroit, are each charged in Dukes’ murder.

Dukes had a long criminal history in Warren while Peete and Hatch each have criminal records in both Warren and Detroit.

Wednesday’s indictments charge Peete with three counts of heroin distribution, the use of a phone in the commission of a felony, and possession with intent to distribute heroin, crack cocaine and cocaine.