Friday, January 22, 1999

Drug arrests make difference quickly

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Officials and residents in Lockland and Lincoln Heights are relieved today following Thursday's “significant” arrests of 30 suspected distributors accused of selling crack cocaine in both areas.

        “I see a difference already,” said Sharon Wykes, whose mother lives near the Lockland building officials identified as a “crack house.”

        A condemned sign, issued by the Hamilton County Health Department, hung from the door of the first-floor apartment of 608 Walnut Ave. in Lockland, several hours after officials made arrests there.

        “You would always see people hanging outside and cars driving up and down the street. It was dangerous, and we didn't want to let the kids play outside,” Ms. Wykes said. “This makes me very happy.”

        The property owner has 60 days to bring the building up to code specifications, officials said.

        Requests for assistance from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Mobile Enforcement Team, based in Detroit, were made more than a year ago by Lincoln Heights Police Chief Ernie McCowen and Lockland Police Chief Kenneth Johnson.

        The chiefs said that when drug arrests were made in one area, drug activity increased in another.

        “We worked together to get outside assistance because the problem kept continuing,” Chief Johnson said. “The number of drug-related crimes in Lockland has increased steadily over the past four years. In the first three months of 1998, we made 100 arrests for possession of crack cocaine in a community of only 4,400 people.”

        Federal agents arrived four months ago and assisted Lockland and Lincoln Heights with their investigation, which netted 20 ounces of crack cocaine, with a street value of $20,000, four vehicles, a shotgun, and $3,600 in cash.

        “These arrests remove some of Lincoln Heights' major drug suppliers off the streets,” Chief McCowen said.

        He commended Lincoln Heights and Lockland police officers for their work.

        Said Lincoln Heights police Sgt. Sandra Stevenson: “This has been a long time coming.

        “The job will be a bit easier now. We kind of put Lincoln Heights on the map in that it's no longer going to be a safe place for drug dealers. ... It lets them know that the Lincoln Heights police ain't playing.”


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