Friday, February 23, 2001

Agents swoop down on Covington


25 arrested for crack; more sought

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — A force of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents that targets violent drug gangs throughout the nation swept through Covington on Thursday, arresting more than two dozen people.

        This is only the second time one of these units, known as “mobile enforcement teams,” has been deployed in the Tristate.

[photo] DEA agents raid a house in Covington Thursday.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
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        The team was part of a collaboration of police agencies that arrested 25 people in just a few hours and were looking for 13 more Thursday night. The arrests came after police made 120 controlled crack cocaine purchases since August.

        “Dealers will once again crawl back into the holes they came out of like the cockroaches they are,” Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn said. “But like the cockroaches they are, you have to keep spraying them, and we intend to keep spraying them.”

        The names of the people arrested were not available because their indictments were sealed. They face charges including possession and conspiracy with the intent to distribute crack cocaine. If convicted, most face a minimum of 20 years in prison, while some could face life sentences.

        “We are working, quietly for the most part, disrupting and dismantling some of this town's most notorious and most obnoxious drug-dealing organizations,” said Jeffrey A. Lampinski, special agent in charge of the FBI in Kentucky.

        He said through a collaboration of the FBI's Safe Streets task force and the DEA, drug dealers have been “delivered a very powerful, one-two punch.”

        There are more than 100 Safe Streets task forces across the country. They operate out of FBI field offices, and allow special agents in each office to identify hot spots for drug activities.

[photo] FBI agent Jeffrey Lampinski speaks announces the arrest of suspected drug dealers in Covington Thursday. In background (from left) are assistant Covington Police Chief Jim Liles, Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn and DEA agent Ruth Beaver
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        “We have seen over the past three years an increase in gang activity, drugs and violence,” Covington police spokesman Lt. Col. Jim Liles said. “Through the help of county, state and federal agencies, we (will now have) a decrease in these activities in the city.”

        Police covet the DEA teams' visits because they bring in resources local agencies don't have. Typically, a team consists of a dozen agents who bring with them thousands of dollars to make drug buys. DEA agents can go undercover more easily because they are not from the area.

        The DEA team that has been operating in Covington since October is from Detroit.

        Since their formation in 1995, the DEA had received 378 requests and deployed the mobile enforcement teams 265 times. DEA officials have credited these deployments with making significant impact in neighborhoods across the nation.

        In area where the DEA has deployed the teams, assaults have been reduced by 15 percents, homicides by 15 percent, and robberies by 14 percent, according to a DEA Web page.

        The team also was deployed in Lincoln Heights for seven months in 1999 and 2000.

        “They come in and deal with the street-level drug deals,” Lincoln Heights Police Chief Ernie McCowen said. “They help a lot. I have nothing bad to say about them.”

        Chief McCowen said he signed an agreement that he would not reveal any secrets of the team.

        The team is credited with taking 32 major Lincoln Heights drug dealers off the street.

        “It was a great impact,” Chief McCowen said. “I was very impressed. It worked.”

        In 1997, the team was deployed for two months in Louisville to fight a violent drug gang accused of killing a DEA informant, according to a DEA Web page. After the team dismantled the drug gang, Louisville-area crime rates dropped 9 percent to 10 percent compared with the year before.
        Cinergy teams up in anti-pollution effort
- Agents swoop down on Covington
Covington faces drug trade



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