Three METRICH-MARMET investigations led to major arrests in the first half on May, ending with the Sunday arrest of a former Marion Correctional Institution contractor and rehabilitation speaker. The arrests were announced Monday.
Marion resident Najmuddeen Salaam, 46, was arrested in Delaware County and found in possession of 365 grams of cocaine and $1,000 in cash, according to a METRICH-MARMET news release.
The release said he was stopped with assistance from the Ohio Highway Patrol, and METRICH-MARMET and OSP had been investigating Salaam for several months.
Salaam previously spent 18 years in prison for rape but began volunteering at MCI a year after his 2009 release. Initially, he was a paid contractor mentoring inmates, but a 2012 provision of the Prison Rape Elimination Act bars individuals with a sex offense conviction from working as employees or contractors at a prison.
Because of his rape conviction, Salaam was no longer allowed to work there and lost his job Dec. 27, 2013, though he was still allowed to enter as a volunteer\
Police Chief Bill Collins said they had been investigating Salaam for two months before the arrest, due to suspicions Salaam was bringing drugs into Marion Correctional Institution and helping inmates continue drug trafficking operations.
"(Salaam) pretty much had free reign of the prison (Marion Correctional Institution)," Collins said. "He was able to come and go without being searched."
Collins said they did not know of Salaam being involved with other prison facilities. ODRC spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said in an email that "all employees, contractors, visitors, volunteers and guests are subject to standardized search procedures" upon entering state prison facilities, though she could not elaborate on those procedures for security reasons.
Smith also said they are in the process of terminating "any contract" with Salaam, and her statements indicated he had been able to work there again as a contractor after his 2013 termination due to the federal law regarding sex offense convictions.
"(He) began working as a contractor for the Prison News Network at the Marion Correctional Institution in August 2015 and provided sub-contracting services through the Win-Win Institute since 2014," Smith said.
She also said his current sub-contract was with non-profit group Healing Broken Circles, and their website listed Salaam as Community Development Facilitator. A call to Healing Broken Circles' executive director was not returned.
A working number for the Win-Win Institute could not be identified, while Salaam was listed online as PNN Supervisor and primary contact for the group and no other information was available.
Salaam is in the Delaware County Jail, awaiting filing of a first-degree felony charge of possession of cocaine.
The other two men arrested were involved in trafficking pills -- one was allegedly a local seller while the other was a distributor in Detroit who allegedly supplied him and others.
Wayne Wallace Jr., 41, was arrested in Toledo on May 11, according to the release, after a two week investigation by METRICH-MARMET, the Toledo Metro Drug Task Force and DEA officials in Detroit.
Wallace was arrested after a short foot pursuit, with the assistance of a citizen who suffered a broken wrist and kneecap when he tackled Wallace. The release said 298 pills were seized, worth $10,430, and that Wallace was suspected of supplying Marion drug traffickers with "up to 2,000 pills a week."
On May 13, agents from the Detroit DEA office served a search warrant at Wallace's home and seized 11 firearms and around 500 pills, worth $17,395. Wallace will soon be transferred to Marion County to face a second-degree felony charge of trafficking in drugs.
Before Wallace's arrest, Marion resident Anthony Alexander was arrested and a search warrant was served in the 1000 block of Richmond Avenue, leading to seizure of $20,105 in cash, 631 pills and 384 grams of marijuana, according to the press release. His arrest concluded an investigation by METRICH-MARMET and Marion County Adult Probation.
Alexander, 31, had prior local convictions for aggravated possession of drugs and cocaine trafficking. More charges against all three are expected, and the press release said METRICH-MARMET would continue working with other agencies to combat drug trafficking.
"May 2016 has proven to be a great month in seizing drugs and (drug sale) proceeds," Collins said in the release. Without the work of METRICH-MARMET detectives, Collins said, those drugs would have been on the street.
Marion County Sheriff Tim Bailey said he "could not be more proud" of the work METRICH-MARMET has done in recent years and would continue to support them in protecting the community. The METRICH-MARMET Task Force includes police and sheriff's detectives as well as Marion County Prosecutor Brent Yager.
Originally published in The Marion Star on May 17, 2016.