Drug crime fighting Cleveland strike force formed

Rod Rosenstein WTAM

(Cleveland) - U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein joined United States Attorney Justin Herdman, federal and local law enforcement officials today to announce a new strike force to target drug trafficking and violent crime in Cleveland.

Rosenstein says The Cleveland Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Strike Force will bring together more than 200 local police, federal agents and prosecutors to work side-by-side to strengthen public safety.  

The strike force’s mission will be to disrupt and dismantle major criminal organizations and their subsidiaries trafficking narcotics, weapons, humans and the proceeds of their crimes. 

 “This Strike Force brings our best federal and local law enforcement talents together in a united front to take the fight to the streets of Cleveland and to stop this drug-fueled violence in its tracks,” said Rosenstein.  “It’s an honor to join U.S. Attorney Herdman, the city of Cleveland and the many federal and local law enforcement leaders partnering in this effort.” 

Rosenstein did not take questions from the media. Many will remember that he went to the White House on September 24, and met with Chief of Staff John Kelly; according to some reports, he offered his resignation. 

Following the meeting, the White House issued a statement that Rosenstein retained his position as Deputy Attorney General.

Rod Rosenstein WTAM

The strike force will target violent street gangs involved in retaliatory homicides, carjackings, commercial robberies and other violent activities, as well as people and organizations involved in trafficking opioids, which has fueled the overdose epidemic plaguing Ohio. 

This includes focusing on interdicting packages containing drugs traveling via the U.S. mail, as well as investigations focused on online drug trafficking.Participating agencies include: FBI, DEA, HSI, IRS, ATF, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, Cleveland Division of Police, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Border Patrol, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and the Independence Police Department. 

Several other area law enforcement agencies have agreed to participate in the Strike Force as well.

“The creation of the Cleveland Strike Force is an exciting time for law enforcement and a valuable tool to help protect our citizens and hold criminals accountable,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony. “Combining under one roof the unique skills, talents and capabilities of the participating agencies will enable us to better address the wide variety of significant drug and violent crime threats facing our community. The FBI is fully committed to help lead this critical new initiative with substantial resources, equipment and technology.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy Plancon said: “As a part of the Cleveland OCDETF Strike Force, we are committed to a long-term partnership that allows law enforcement to reduce the illegal drug supply by aggressively targeting criminal organizations operating throughout northern Ohio. Drug trafficking and violence go hand-in-hand, which is why federal, state and local law enforcement are making these dangerous drug trafficking organizations a top priority.  By working with our partners, we are able to leverage resources that bring these violent individuals to justice and improve the safety of our communities.  We are focused on the current opioid epidemic, but this initiative is ready to adapt to any future drug threat facing northern Ohio.”

“Crime, particularly violent crime, challenges our quality of life and affects our ability to create a great city with a sustainable future,” said Mayor Frank G. Jackson. “The addition of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force will help us more effectively fight drug problems and violent crime.”

The cost of the build-out, rent, equipment and support costs will be paid by the Justice Department. The Strike Force is expected to be operational by mid-2019.

(Photos by Ken Robinson/WTAM)

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