Maj. Bill Collins with the Marion Police Department said “Revolving Door” was a perfect codename for the MARMET Drug Task Force’s latest and largest operation.

“Over 90 percent of those being arrested have had prior drug-related convictions,” he said.

Operation Revolving Door sought 50 people with warrants for drug trafficking. Many of the officers involved could not recall an operation that included more warrants.

By Tuesday afternoon, MARMET officials had arrested more than 30 off their list. A few others had been picked up, too. Collins said he was “tickled to death” over the results.

“It’s been a steady stream,” he said. “Things are going well and they’re still bringing them in.”

The name of the operation refers to the revolving door of the judicial system. Maj. Jay McDonald said it has been his experience that people arrested for drug crimes are typically out quickly and return to selling illegal substances.

“This community is fed up with drug dealers being considered low-level criminals,” he said. “We think, and this community thinks, that drug dealing is the biggest plague on this community.”

McDonald said he has advocated — with the Marion Police Department and as president of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio — for drug crimes to have stricter punishments, that they be more than a “slap on the wrist.”

“Drug traffickers are not the same as drug users and drug traffickers should be incarcerated,” he said.

The search was the culmination of a six-month investigation into the illegal sale of drugs in the city and county.

Since Jan. 1, investigators made controlled drug purchases from suspects. Heroin, crack cocaine and prescription medication were the main drugs bought during these controlled purchases.

“At the beginning of the year, we promised citizens of Marion we would remain vigilant in our efforts to seek out and to stem the tide of illegal drug sales in Marion,” Collins said.

“This is an answer to that promise. This operation will certainly have a positive impact to the availability of illegal drugs in our community.”

On Aug. 21, Marion County Prosecutor Brent Yager conducted a special grand jury after hundreds of hours were spent by law enforcement and the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office in preparation for the operation.

Nearly all of the issued warrants are for mid- to street-level dealers. Collins said most of those involved were local dealers and would sell to “10 or 20” different people.

“They’re not big fish, but they’re not small fish either,” he said. “They’re not just small-time users.”

Members of the Marion Police Department and Marion County Sheriff’s Office broke up into five teams and fanned out across Marion County to serve the warrants.

Those arrested were taken to City Hall for processing. From there, they were transported to the Multi-County Correctional Center.

Police seized more than $3,000. Collins said marijuana was found on at least one person.

All of the listed suspects are expected to be arraigned in Marion Municipal Court today.

Although officials consider the operation a success, 14 more people remain at large.

Collins said residents must continue to be the eyes and ears of the community.

“We get frustrated neighbors who say ‘I’ve called this in four, five, six times, nothing’s happening,’” Collins said. “But we just can’t go do it right now. We may be in the middle of an investigation. We can’t just act at that point. Sometimes it takes time. We ask people to have patience with us. Certainly keep calling those tips in. Those are a huge help for us.”

Those tips can be given to the Marion Police Department at 740-387-2525 or the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at 740-382-8244. Calls can be made anonymously to the TIPS line at 740-375-8477.

Already in custody
As of Tuesday evening, 32 individuals had been apprehended, including:
• Anthony Alexander, 28, on two counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Heath Biderman, 28, on one count of trafficking in heroin
• Kathy Branstetter, 55, on two counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Dominique Brown, 23, on two counts of complicity to trafficking in cocaine
• Christopher Campbell, 34, on two counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Kyle Carbins, 66, on two counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Jesus Chavez, 20, on two counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Tawana Cochran, 29, on two counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Andrew Fleming, 30, on one count of trafficking in heroin
• William Flournoy, 30, on two counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Sheree Floyd, 30, on one count of trafficking in cocaine
• James Glass Jr., 29, on two counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Nathanial Grant, 40, on two counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Alonzo Harris, 42, on two counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Marcus Hemphill, 28, on one count of trafficking in cocaine
• Cara Hoffman, 28, on three counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Sarah Hoffman, 35, on two counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Jessika Huffman, 25, on one count of trafficking in cocaine
• Richard Mayse, 33, on two counts of trafficking in heroin
• Johnny Myles III, 25, on three counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Jeffrey Patterson, 54, on one count of trafficking in cocaine
• Toi Pickens, 24, on three counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Georganna Privett, 30, on a charge of permitting drug abuse
• William Quick St., 48, on on three counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Kathy Ritter, 41, on one count of trafficking in heroin
• Carol Sisson, 45, on a charge of permitting drug abuse
• Ahlea Thornton, 30, on three counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Alan Walter Jr., 24, on one count of trafficking in heroin
• Charles Woodring, 43, on one count of trafficking in cocaine
• Tyson Wright, 34, on two counts of trafficking in cocaine
• Randy Thomas, 28, on a charge of trafficking in a Schedule II
• Meggan Tiller, 29, on two counts of trafficking in cocaine

Originally published in the Marion Star on August 28, 2013.