Raid among area’s largest

WARREN – Last week’s rounding up of 80 people in a major drug investigation is the largest in recent history.

A search of Tribune Chronicle files shows that in Trumbull County, the largest law enforcement operation before this week was Nov. 26, 2009, when 100 law enforcement personnel hit five homes in the city as part of a heroin investigation.

This week, ”Operation Little D-Town,” in which 97 people were indicted on charges connected to distributing heroin and other drugs in Warren, took nearly 200 law enforcement personnel to pull off.

The investigation took about a year and was started by the Trumbull Ashtabula Group Law Enforcement Task Force while the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration jumped in about six months later.

At the time in 2009, officials called that sweep the largest ever in Trumbull County history. That was not a federal operation, but one in which the charges originated from the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office.

Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jeff Orr, who heads up TAG, said ATF agents took the lead in coordinating much of the effort when it came to the roundups.

Orr said TAG agents also helped and tried to plan the raids to arrest suspects down to the smallest detail, such as where the teams would park their cars when they went to a location. Sixteen teams of officers took part in the operation, which began Wednesday.

Of the 97 indicted, 80 were arrested as of Friday afternoon.

Each team had at least one local officer or deputy because the ATF used a lot of teams from out of town for manpower, Orr said.

”They emptied out three or four offices to come here,” Orr said.

Additionally, Orr said the federal court pretrial services division set up at the Trumbull County Jail to interview those wanted on federal warrants before their initial court appearance.

As for meshing personnel from different agencies into one team, Orr said each team had a leader and such techniques as setting up a perimeter on a home or searching are basic for officers who deal with tactical situations on a regular basis.

”Because most of us specialize in this – the tactical aspect – everyone is familiar with how to do building searches or room searches,” Orr said.

Orr said everything went well during the week and he also said that despite the size of the operation, he was not nervous.