The amount of a federal grant that funds Medway Drug Enforcement Agency operations continues to dwindle, but it still provides much-needed financial help to take drug dealers and illegal drugs off the streets.
Medway Director Don Hall told the county commissioners Wednesday, the amount goes down every year, and the $35,000 grant is about $5,000 less than a year ago.
“There’s been talk over the years that it might disappear,” Hall said.
The Justice Assistance Grant is one of the oldest on the books that Budget Director Carol Zemrock can remember. She said it has probably been cut in half over the past 20 years, but it has leveled off in recent years.
“The need for it has not leveled off,” Commissioner Ron Amstutz said.
Medway has made some high-profile arrests recently. State Highway Patrol and Wooster Police assisted agents with a search warrant Tuesday on Spink Street, in which three people were arrested and charges are pending on a fourth.
Though the agency’s efforts have been visible over the past month, “A lot of the stuff we’re doing goes under the radar and is not released to the public,” Hall said.
The “stuff” Medway has been doing goes in cycles, Hall said. About 15-20 years ago, agents were busy with crack cocaine. Over the past two to three years, the focus has been on opiates, heroin, fentanil, carfentanil and methamphetamines.
“We don’t see a lot of cocaine or marijuana; 20 years ago, you never saw heroin on the streets,” Hall said. “Now, it’s opiates, whether in pill form or from other countries.”
Out-of-town dealers continue to be a problem, whether they are from Cleveland or Detroit, Hall said.
The drug problem will never truly be eradicated, but Medway and 39 other drug task forces across the state continue to tackle the problem every day, Hall said.
From time to time, people express frustration with the length of time it takes to build a case against drug dealers. But, “It’s not as simple as knocking on a door and asking to buy drugs,” Hall said. It takes informants and undercover agents to infiltrate networks. “It takes time.” And, when opportunities present themselves, agents and law enforcement execute search warrants and make arrests.
Medway worked a case in 2013 in which $20,000 of oxycodone was being brought into Wayne County, Ohio, from Wayne County, Mich. (Detroit). It ultimately led to four convictions on the federal level in 2015.
“There’s so much more my agents do that can’t be released to the public,” Hall said. “There’s a reason for that; it’s a bigger picture.”
By BOBBY WARREN Staff Writer