The four men arrested last week after a four-month drug investigation had no set place of business, no drug house, but instead used ever-shifting locations — mostly parking lots around the Dayton Mall — to meet their customers, police say.

“The drug problem is everywhere,” said Miami Twp. Chief Chris Krug. “We’re seeing a lot more drug deals that are taking place in open space.”

It’s yet another aspect to the technological revolution. Drug users can text their dealers, then agree to meet them in a parking lot. They’re together for less than a few minutes, and its harder for police to know where to set up surveillance.

The four arrested are Edward Jemison, 21, of West Carrollton; Trae A. Griffith, 25, of Moraine; Charles Wiggins, 22, of West Carrollton; and Jamal Whatley, 19, of Dayton. Montgomery County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Brem, assigned to the county’s R.A.N.G.E. Task Force, said the four were making deals with 50 to 100 customers daily, bringing drug users from across Montgomery County and beyond to the businesses around the mall.

“In a sense, the businesses are victims, too,” Sheriff Phil Plummer said. “It was good for the business community around the mall to get them off the street.”

Investigators seized hundreds of gellcaps of heroin and cocaine plus about $20,000 in cash Thursday from a room at the Fairfield Inn, 8035 Washington Drive, Washington Twp. Earlier that evening, they executed a search warrant Thursday at an apartment at 2149 Sidneywood Road, West Carrollton. Court records list that address as the home of Wiggins and Jemison.

Miamisburg Captain Tom Thompson said police had received several complaints from area businesses.

“It was 100 percent on our radar,” Thompson said.

Krug said the township saw a 10 percent drop in major crimes between 2011 and 2012. Drug arrests are up 29 percent, but that is usually due to officers finding drugs on suspects they are arresting for another offense, Krug said.

No violence was reported concerning the dealers’ activities, but police were still concerned, Thompson said.

“What comes with narcotics is potentially violent crime,” Thompson said. “It’s just a very public area, with lots of kids, lots of families.”

The four men all remained in the Montgomery County Jail on Monday afternoon. All four have been charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a second-degree felony punishable by up to eight years in prison. Griffith also is charged with six counts of trafficking heroin and one count of drug possession. Wiggins also is charged with three counts of trafficking heroin. Whatley is charged with two counts of trafficking heroin and one count of drug possession. All of these charges are felonies.

By Lou Grieco

Staff Writer – Dayton Daily News