Massive undercover drug investigation leads to dozens of arrests

WILMINGTON, OH (FOX19) - A massive undercover drug operation led to charges against 72 people.

Wilmington police launched what was supposed to have been a routine narcotics investigation more than a year ago, but they soon uncovered information about an organized drug operation. The Greater Warren County Drug Task Force was called in along with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

Wilmington Police Chief Duane Weyland says the operation used undercover officers, confidential informants and ordinary citizens.

"We're pretty blessed in Wilmington being a tight-knit community and we had a lot of great people, you know, providing us with tips, information that kind of helped facilitate this." 

Weyland says the suspects were affiliates of a Wilmington based group known as the Marlena Park Gang.

"The top tier of that is pretty much the people we felt kind of ran the organization and as
it trickled down you had basically a hierarchy of a drug trafficking operation," he said.

He also says it was an operation that peddled drugs in and out of Wilmington.

"Just because they're trickling their way into Highland or trickling their way into Clinton County doesn't mean that some of these people weren't  taking them into adjoining counties whether it had been Butler, Warren, Hamilton," said Weyland.
Police seized drugs including cocaine, heroin, meth, fentanyl and marijuana.

Karen Johnston of Wilmington says she's glad to see the gang shut down.

"I think that's a good thing trying to get all the drug dealers off the street," she said. "It's very good. There's things that you can do legally. You can work, people can get jobs. There is things you can do."

Police have arrested 40 suspects so far, but they are confident the rest will be captured within the next few days.

Weyland says he hopes the arrests and seizures will put a dent in the region's growing heroin problem.
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