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ACE Task Force helps police

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On Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 26 and 27, three Springfield residents were arrested in Yellow Springs for trafficking in cocaine and heroin. The Yellow Springs Police offered assistance in serving warrants and apprehending John E. Taylor, Gregory T. Rydell and Kareem Crosley. The incidents were sting operations using undercover operatives, and the lead agency conducting the so-called “roundup,” was the Greene County A.C.E. Task Force.

The A.C.E. Task Force, or agencies for combined enforcement, is a multijurisdictional agency involving the Greene County sheriff, Greene County prosecutor, and the Sugarcreek Township, Fairborn, Beavercreek, Xenia and Yellow Springs police departments. As a member of the task force since 2005, YSPD provides a full-time officer to the force, and the task force focuses attention on large-scale illegal activity in the village. According to Yellow Springs Police Chief John Grote, the attention the village receives as the result of its membership is a benefit to the department.

The local department provides assistance to the task force, “and in return, we get some focus from [the task force] and are able to deal with drug trafficking on a much larger scale — for example, people that supply the village of Yellow Springs with different types of drugs,” Grote said. “It’s beyond just street level buys.”

The task force uses information gathered in the community to identify suspected drug traffickers and then has undercover agents buy drugs from those suspects, Task Force Director Bruce May said in an interview last week. The task force pursues wider illegal activity as well, but focuses on drug trafficking because that activity is so destructive to the community and requires a wider network of law enforcement, May said.

Last week’s roundup in the village was coordinated with 11 other unrelated arrests involving jurisdictions in Xenia, Beavercreek, Fairborn, Springfield and Franklin and Montgomery counties. The scale of offenses included trafficking in heroin, crack, powder cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, marijuana and pharmaceutical drugs within the past year. The Yellow Springs operation specifically, according to May, involved multiple buys of not less than a half ounce of cocaine, which goes for about $600 on the street, and not less than 25 caps of heroin, which has a street value of $500.

“They were more than street level dealers — these were larger dealers operating in larger quantities,” May said. “Their offenses were at least third-degree felonies, and they will probably all serve mandatory time.”

The recent buys were set up in Yellow Springs because the information task force officers had gathered led them to believe that Taylor, Rydell and Crosley were trafficking in the village, May said. He could not say whether local residents had been buying the drugs, partly because he couldn’t track all the prior sales activity, and partly because he could not disclose his sources of information (which often start with complaints from neighbors), he said. But dealers from other communities like to meet in Yellow Springs with buyers from other communities for the same reason visitors and tourists come to the village — it’s an attractive and lively place to do business, May said.

To participate in the task force, Yellow Springs pays an annual membership fee of $10,500 and pays the full-time salary of Officer Rich Miller, who earns as much as he would if he worked in the village, according to Village Accounts Receivable Clerk Susie Yount. Other Yellow Springs police officers work at the task force on a part-time basis for training purposes and to offer assistance on cases they may have information about, Grote said.

According to the 2008 annual report, the A.C.E. Task Force arrested six Yellow Springs residents and served three additional warrants at addresses in the village, including one on Union Street, one on Suncrest Drive and another on Winter Street. In that year the task force conducted a buy/arrest reversal operation to capture four people involved in the trafficking of oxycontin in the village. Also in 2008 the task force continued to pursue ongoing investigations related to the 2002 murder of Timothy Lopez, the 2004 murder of Timothy Harris and the 2008 indictment of Iddi Bakari for drug trafficking, all or parts of which occurred in the village.

Task force cases aren’t always directly connected to incidents that occur in Yellow Springs, although sometimes they are, Grote said.

“You can’t always make a direct correlation, but you know it has an impact on the area, in southwest Ohio and the Greene County area,” Grote said. “Any time you can take large quantities off the street, it makes an impact here, too.”

The task force also distributes among its member organizations the cash and materials it confiscates, one-eighth of which comes to Yellow Springs, according to Grote. The cash goes into the police department’s Furtherance of Justice Fund and is used to support Yellow Springs youth and high school sports and academic programs, such as Power of the Pen, Girls Running, the Yellow Springs High School football team and the Mills Lawn safety patrol program. The fund also provides medical support for victims of crime. The task force often confiscates vehicles as well, which are used by the police department or the Village, or are sold for cash for the justice fund, which can have as much as $30,000 at any given time, Grote said.

Yellow Springs was invited to participate in the task force in 2005 because of the severity of events that were going on at that time in the village, Grote said. And though the department makes a decision each year about whether or not to renew its membership, Grote feels it is a good thing overall for the village.

“The membership fee seems like a cheap price to pay to participate and be able to have an impact on Greene County as well,” Grote said of Yellow Springs’ membership to the Task Force. “I think there has been a benefit to the village.”


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