Two arrested in raid

WARREN – “Good riddance” said the man across the street as he watched law enforcement board up the house at the corner of Wick and Rogers S.E. Thursday morning after two men were escorted out in handcuffs.

“I’m glad to see them go,” said Travis Diekmann, 27, of Wick Avenue. “I’m not surprised at all. You could tell what was going on over there. They didn’t try to hide it.”

Officials from at least three agencies said they found heroin, guns and security cameras inside the house, which was also declared a public nuisance. An undisclosed amount of cash was found there as well.

Convicted drug dealer Carl Foster, 57, 2345 Wick Ave. S.E., and Antonio Stubbs, 27, were each charged with felony heroin possession, but additional charges could be added. They were both taken to the Trumbull County Jail, but released later Thursday after posting $3,500 bond each.

A woman who was at the house was not arrested. However, officials said she could face charges at some point.

The raid began about 7 a.m. and officials remained at the scene until close to noon. Officers used force to burst through the barricaded steel front door.

Incoming Warren police chief, Capt. Eric Merkel explained the raid was part of a collaborative effort among his department, the city prosecutor’s office, Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office and Trumbull Ashtabula Group Law Enforcement Task Force.

Merkel said it’s also a practice he hopes to continue.

“This is the start of a citywide drug and crime cleanup,” Merkel said. “We’re very serious about cleaning up these problems.”

Assistant Warren prosecutor Traci Timko Rose said a TAG officer approached her several months ago regarding concerns about activity at the house, which was identified by law enforcement as a drug house. The house was also raided in 2010.

“I think what we have here today is a combination of an exceptional problem here in Warren, a sore spot, and a strategy we hope to use in the future to address problems like this, basically, to get these houses that are identified as drug houses closed and boarded up. None of us wants to see more boarded up houses in the city by any means. But it is better than the alternative when it comes to something like this.”

Confidential informants purchased heroin several times since the investigation started in April, officials said.

Also on Thursday, Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge W. Wyatt McKay signed a temporary restraining order declaring the house a public nuisance, and a board-up order was issued.

Rose said prosecutors spoke with the homeowner, Foster’s mother, Annie Foster, before the May 2010 raid and again in April about drug activity at the house but the issue was never resolved. Carl and Annie Foster are each named on the nuisance claim. Annie Foster arrived at the house a couple of hours into the raid, but declined to comment.

A hearing on the city’s nuisance complaint is scheduled for 9 a.m. June 17.

The raid drew several spectators throughout the morning, with several passersby stopping to take pictures with their cell phones and others clapping and cheering law enforcement on.

“It’s like they don’t even care that people know what they’re doing,” said Trevor Dotson, 17, whose aunt lives across the street. “They do it right out in front of us. It’s crazy.”

Foster was sentenced to one year in prison after the 2010 raid on drug trafficking and weapons charges. He also served six months in jail in 2005 for heroin trafficking.

Stubbs has had several brushes with the law. However, court records show felonious assault charges and other complaints against him the past few several years were dropped.

Diekmann said he doesn’t know the Fosters or Stubbs personally.

“I hope this takes care of the problem once and for all,” he said. “I don’t want to see houses boarded up either. But it’s better than what’s been going on over there. You see it all the time. One guy handed another money and getting something in his hand for it. My wife and I have kids here. You just don’t want something like this going on, so out in the open like that, around your kids.”